What puts the “snap” in gingersnaps, the “pop” in ginger ale and the “wake-up call” in green juices? They’re ginger’s pungent phenol compounds: the gingerols and shogaols. These volatile oils more than make up in health benefits for what the ginger root lacks in the looks department.
Ginger has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to reduce inflammation. A study published in the Journal of Arthritis found ginger more effective in the reduction of pain and inflammation than painkillers. In addition, a study cited by the University of Maryland Medical Center said people with osteoarthritis of the knee who took a ginger extract twice a day had less pain and needed fewer pain-killing medications than those who took a placebo.
Gingerols counteracted obesity and diabetes and treated tumors in preclinical studies published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, and shogaol compounds were found to have even higher anti-cancer potencies in a preclinical study published in Drug Metabolism & Disposition.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory benefits can improve digestion and reduce nausea symptoms, which is why we reach for the ginger ale and ginger candies.
Ginger has possible interactions with blood-thinning, diabetes and high blood pressure medications, so if you have any of these conditions, you first should consult with your health-care provider about using ginger.
You can find fresh ginger root at health food stores and at most grocery stores in the produce section. Fresh and ground ginger vary greatly in taste, so experiment to see which you prefer. If cooking with fresh ginger is new to you, start slowly and increase the amount as your taste buds adjust to the spiciness. The following recipes will get you started.
Have fun with ginger and put a little “snap” into your day!
Susan Ojanen is an Integrative Nutrition Coach and owner of smallstepswellness.com, based in Bristol, Tennessee. She is passionate about helping clients worldwide achieve their health goals by creating sensible and maintainable lifestyle changes.