How to Eat More Ginger

When I say the words “ginger spice”, and you initially think of your favourite zingy and versatile culinary spice, but then quickly after think of a red-headed British girl-band pop star in the 90’s, and then right after that feel intense shame for the giant blue foam platform sandals and tube top dresses you wore during her fame, then we have a lot in common.

This article concerns the primary commonality. I don’t talk about that second commonality too much. Those were awkward years.

So, um…do you love ginger too??!

I’ve heard not everyone shares our love. Ginger is a loud flavour. It’s unapologetically spicy and pungent and will tickle your nose and mouth most wickedly should you choose to get so intimate with it. Some people just aren’t into that kind of thing. Some people don’t want their food to shock them, to experience flavours that border between pleasure and pain.

Those people are boring.

Come, my spicy ginger-lovers, and follow me to exciting food frontiers. Let’s talk about ginger.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a root that is used widely in the world both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Although ginger makes rather timid appearances in Western cuisine, it’s in traditional Eastern dishes that ginger appears most unabashedly. Ginger is a staple spice in Indian, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean kitchens, zinging brightly through broths, pickled condiments, lentil dishes, and desserts. Medicinally, ginger is used extensively in both Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) and Traditional Chinese Medicine healing modalities.

Research is starting to catch up with these ancient medicine systems that have been using ginger as medicine for hundreds of years.

Here’s what tradition and science says ginger can do:

Nausea

Ginger is probably best known, medicinally, for its anti-nausea effects. Ginger is remarkably effective for the treatment of nausea due to pregnancy, motion sickness, or chemotherapy-induced side effects. [1]

Colon Cancer Prevention

The development and progression of colon cancer is associated with increased levels of inflammatory prostaglandins in the colon. Research shows that the ingestion of ginger can reduce the presence of these inflammatory molecules in the colon and therefore theoretically reduce the risk of colon cancer [2]. In a study using rats, ginger inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells [3].

Digestion

Sluggish digestion? You might want to try ginger! Ginger helps facilitate gastric emptying (so your food isn’t just sitting around in your stomach forever) [4]. And if food is moving too fast through you (aka. diarrhea), ginger calms down spasms in the colon, regulating bowel function [5].

Menstrual Cramps

Women who started taking ginger three days before their period had a significant reduction in pain due to menstruation. Ginger worked as well as two other different NSAIDs (ibuprofen and mefenamic acid)! [6]

Cardiovascular Health

Ginger has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol, and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lower triglycerides. [7]

Memory

Taking ginger appears to improve performance on memory-related cognitive tests [8]. It also seems to increase brain volume. [9] Having a dense, heavy brain is a good thing! (Which makes the term “airhead” very appropriate…)

Male Fertility

Good news, man-friends! Ginger is good for fertility! In a study examining infertile men, supplementing with ginger increased testosterone, sperm motility, ejaculate volume, sperm count, and sperm quality. [10]

It appears that a dose between 1-3 grams is effective as a daily dose for chronic ailments like inflammation, or as a one-time dose for acute symptoms like nausea. And just in case you’d like to know what 1 gram of ginger translates to, here’s a handy conversion list:

Standardization table for 1g of Ginger Extract [11]:

  • A capsule that has 1g ginger extract in it
  • A teaspoon of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 droppers (2mL) of liquid extract
  • 4 cups (8 oz each) ginger tea, steeping 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger for 5–10 min
  • 2 pieces crystallized ginger, each 1 inch square, 1/4 inch thick

Here are some ideas to add this spice to your belly!

Gingerbread Coconut Macaroons

Tahini Ginger Gravy

Ginger Chocolate Truffle Smoothie

The Hangover Cure

Spice Cubes


Alex Picot-Annand, BA (Psych), Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach

www.alexpicotannand.com

References:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10793599
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21990307
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19117330
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18403946
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20799069
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19216660
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18813412
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22235230
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21197427
  10. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/98039248/effect-ginger-semen-parameters-serum-fsh-lh-testosterone-infertile-men
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15637501