Ginger - superfood and superhero!
Is ginger a superfood and a superhero?
The esteemed term ‘superfood’ generally refers to nutrient-rich foods which have the capacity to positively affect health. However, it’s more of a marketing phenomenon, as there is no single food that holds the key to good health or disease prevention.
However, ginger is a worthy contender in the competition for a place in the top-ranking superfoods. It’s loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain. It’s one of the healthiest, most delicious, spices on the planet.
Closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal, it’s the underground stem or root, that is commonly used as a spice. Ginger contains large, natural amounts of gingerol, especially raw ginger. You can use ginger sliced, diced, dried or fresh, as an oil, juice or powder; it’s so versatile and flexible, and not expensive either.
Ginger has powerful medicinal properties
Ginger contains gingerol, which has powerful medicinal properties. Gingerol also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Gingerol can help fight harmful bacteria and viruses and can therefore lower the risk of infections.
Studies have proven that ginger extract can prevent the growth of many different types of bacteria. One example is that it’s effective against the oral bacteria linked to gingivitis and periodontitis. These are both types of gum disease which can cause inflammation of the gums. Fresh ginger may also be effective against RSV, the respiratory syncytial virus, which is a common cause of respiratory infections.
Here’s ten top health benefits of ginger, supported by science and research, to persuade you of its superhero status.
- Ginger can be used to aid digestion and treat chronic indigestion and discomfort by speeding up the process of emptying the stomach.
- It’s great for getting rid of nausea and sickness.
- It can help fight flu symptoms and common colds.
- It may help weight loss and help to reduce body mass index (BMI).
- Ginger can help slow and reduce the degeneration of joints and help manage symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness, often associated with osteoarthritis.
- Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Studies have proven that ginger is effective in helping to manage period pain, if taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.
- It may also help lower cholesterol levels. High levels of LDL or bad cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and eating ginger can have a strong influence on reducing LDL levels, total cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.
- Ginger and gingerol has been studied as an alternative remedy for several forms of cancer, with results suggesting it may help to prevent cancer.
- Animal studies currently suggest that ginger may improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process and it’s believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. Further research is needed.
Important note: Although ginger is considered safe, please talk with your doctor before prescribing yourself any ginger related remedies, supplements or complementary medicines; especially if you are pregnant.
Recipe for easy, homemade ginger tea
If you fancy putting the powers of ginger to the test, the easiest way is to sip a soothing ginger tea. It’s quick and easy to make it yourself and you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Plan to use about a one-inch piece of ginger for each cup of tea.
- A root ginger, which you can cut in to 4 to 6 thin slices. You can add more slices for stronger ginger tea.
- 2 cups of water.
- The juice from half of a lime or lemon, and honey to taste (optional).
Here’s how to make fresh, invigorating ginger tea:
- First, wash and scrub the ginger root.
- Then, peel the ginger and slice thinly.
- Fill a medium pot with 2 cups of water.
- Place the ginger slices in the water, bring to the boil and let simmer gently for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how strong and spicy you like your tea.
- Remove from the heat.
- Pour the tea through a fine sieve to catch any remaining ginger.
- Serve in your favourite mug.
- Add lime or lemon juice and honey to taste, if desired.
If you prefer, you can make ginger tea with milk:
Follow instructions 1 and 2 above, then boil your ginger root slices in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 cups of milk. Simmer the milk and ginger for five minutes.
PLUS ginger tea is a non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated and virtually calorie-free!
Vegan ginger tea
If you want to make this recipe vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey.
Save time daily by making a bigger batch
If you want to make a bigger batch of ginger tea, to use over the course of a few days, multiply the ingredients and quantities as desired, cook as instructed but then leave to cool naturally until the liquid reaches room temperature.
Then cover it and refrigerate it for up to 4 days. Drink it chilled or reheat for hot tea.
Ginger can be frozen
Don’t throw away any left-over ginger as it’s easy to freeze and save. Cut up the whole root piece for ease and then pop it in cling film or a food bag and freeze it for use later on. It’s also just as effective if you freeze the whole root.
Important note: Drinking ginger tea can have side effects, but you’re unlikely to experience problems unless you consume very large amounts.
How should you use and consume your ginger tea?
- Drink it hot or cold as a morning pick-me-up.
- Or relax with a mug full before bedtime.
- It’s great if you’ve committed to cutting back on alcohol, and caffeine - so drink it as a healthy alternative.
- Ginger tea aids digestion, so if you’re prone to bloating, stomach aches and/or indigestion, always have a ginger brew ready on hand.
Add a flavour twist to your ginger tea
Ginger-cinnamon tea - add a cinnamon stick to your tea as it starts to simmer, for a warming version.
Ginger-turmeric tea - turmeric adds additional anti-inflammatory benefits and will give your tea an orange hue and extra-spicy flavour. Treat fresh turmeric the same way that you treat fresh ginger, so wash, peel and cut into thin slices, then simply add it to your ginger and water mixture.
Ginger-mint tea - fresh mint lends a cooling element and helps balance the warmth of the fresh ginger. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint to your mixture before it starts to simmer.
I hope I’ve proven that not only is ginger and gingerol a superhero, but also a superfood, with many positive health and wellbeing benefits.
It’s also natural, easy to use in recipes, easy to make as a tea and can be bought at lots of places for very little cost.
For all these reasons, ginger is a firm favourite of mine, and I hope it becomes one of yours.
To top it off, I think it smells divine; like winter, Christmas and home baking, all combined with a big hug. Enjoy!
Regards, Jodi x