Ginger (aka, ginger root) may come from underground, but it deserves a moment in the sun. This gnarly root houses zesty flavor and potentially powerful medicinal properties.
Research on how ginger benefits your health has gone on for years. But that doesn’t mean its reputation as a remedy for everything from nausea to hair loss is 100 percent accurate. Let’s dig into the science-backed benefits of this spicy little number.
TBH, ginger doesn’t offer much in terms of vitamins and minerals. Most of its health benefits come from gingerol, the root’s main bioactive compound. Research on animals and in test tubes indicates that gingerol could protect health in several ways — it has anticancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-oxidation properties.
Here are a few other super-healthy bioactive compounds in ginger root:
- paradol (antioxidant and antimicrobial powers, unite!)
- shagaol (hello, anticancer activity!)
- zingerone (even more antioxidant properties!)
- flavonoids (aka, vitamin P!)
Intrigued? Here are all the ways ginger benefits your daily grind.
A mega-review of ginger’s health benefits suggests that this so-called superfood can effectively combat nausea. Other smaller studies indicate that it can soothe chemotherapy-related nausea and nausea after certain surgeries. Older research from 2014 found that ginger is *particularly* helpful for morning sickness — aka, the sort of nausea pregnant peeps know all too well.
Of course, there’s more than one digestive malady. When scientists reviewed the results of several clinical trials, they found that ginger might effectively soothe (to varying degrees):
Remember all those bioactive compounds found in ginger root? Well, several of them are anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is one of your body’s first-line weapons against outside threats. Think about it: If you stub your toe, it swells and heats up. That’s inflammation doing the good work.
Ginger is known to be anti-inflammatory, particularly at the cellular level. There’s also evidence that it soothes inflammation in folks with osteoarthritis. More research is needed to pinpoint exactly how much ginger you should eat to dial down inflammation.
Ginger’s heart-healthy prowess comes from its anti-inflammatory compounds. Chronic inflammation is bad for your cardiovascular system, so noshing on anti-inflammatory foods like ginger can keep your ticker in tip-top shape.
Antioxidants work by preventing free radicals from causing oxidative damage to your body’s cells. Oxidative damage can destroy your body in so many ways: cancer, premature aging, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and more!
The tl;dr? The antioxidants in ginger can shield you from disease-causing cellular damage.
A massive research review of ginger’s health benefits linked ginger intake with:
- lower cholesterol
- insulin reduction
- a small positive effect on weight loss
- possibly reducing body fat
- reducing lipids and insulin resistance in folks with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity
Even spicier: 2020 research found that sipping ginger water helped rats regulate their fat processing *and* slim down in the process. Of course, rats are not humans, so take this study with a grain of salt.
Yep. Ginger is considered generally safe, but large doses can lead to unpleasant side effects:
Avoid overdosing by talking with your doctor before taking ginger supplements. Simply incorporating ginger into your snacks and meals is unlikely to cause distress.
Watch for added ingredients
Some forms of ginger, like powdered or raw, have fewer calories than, say, candied ginger. And sugar isn’t the only sneaky additive. Pickled ginger at the sushi counter can be full of sodium.
While several studies have used ginger in fresh or dried form, there’s little evidence that the form affects the function.
If you have the dried stuff on hand, wow your friends and fam with homemade gingerbread or even a savory ginger-infused entree. Ginger adds a warm, spicy, sinus-clearing element to any snack or smoothie.