Is Ginger Good for You?
Learn why this favorite warming spice may be a friend to your body as well as your taste buds.
Maybe you sip ginger tea or add crystallized ginger to your trail mix. However you eat or drink your ginger, you may be wondering whether it's good for you, and why.
If so, you'll be glad to know that ginger has many health benefits and the plant's helpful effects go back centuries. "Ginger has been used as an ancient medicine for hundreds of years to treat conditions like indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diabetes, and even cancer," says Emily Kyle, MS, RDN, CLT, author of The Hashimoto's AIP Cookbook. "Many research studies have been done to determine if ginger is good for the body and if it has the ability to manage certain degenerative conditions. Researchers agree that ginger is good for you, due to its many phytonutrients that exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-cancer properties."
Ginger boasts substances called gingerol and shogaol, which may help control inflammation in the body, according to a review study published in International Journal of Preventive Medicine. Often considered an alternative medicine, ginger may also help alleviate nausea. In a study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, ginger essential oil was used on patients after they'd undergone surgery. Compared with volunteers using rose and lavender essential oils, as well as a placebo group using water, 65% of patients using the ginger oil reported feeling less nauseous than before. This percentage was less than the lavender group and more than the rose and water groups. In addition, a review study published in Phytomedicine found that ginger decreases the severity of postoperative nausea and vomiting — and may offer an alternative to anti-nausea medicine following surgery.
The benefits of ginger don't stop with helping you feel less woozy. The plant may also help with pain relief in people with osteoarthritis, although more research needs to be conducted in this area. Some research suggests that ginger may help alleviate muscle pain. And ginger may help control blood sugar levels, notes Isabel Smith, MS, RD, a dietitian in New York City. People with diabetes received either 2 grams of ginger per day or a placebo, in a study published in Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. The patients taking the ginger supplement had reduced fasting blood sugar levels, as well as a lowered A1c, or a three-month average of blood sugar levels.
When it comes to eating ginger, there are so many ways to enjoy this power food! Give these a try:
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She's a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, ReadersDigest.com, NBCNews.com, and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy's Eat List, where she shares easy, healthy recipes. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.