Add ginger into your daily diet...

By Z. K
Tue, 11, 19

In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative. Its medicinal properties have been valued and used throughout the ages.....


Ginger is a well loved, tried and tested flavoursome spice. It is zingy and warming, with a distinctive zesty flavour and aroma. It can also turn salads, desserts, bakes and juices into delicious, lively culinary delights. No matter how you enjoy ginger, it’s a great spice to have on hand. You may use it to add spice to a meal or steeped in a hot tea, but ginger has multiple health benefits too. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative. Its medicinal properties have been valued and used throughout the ages.

A brief history

Ginger has been traded throughout history longer than most other spices. Native to South-east Asia, India and China, ginger has been an integral component of the region’s diet and valued for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties for thousands of years. Indians and Chinese are believed to have produced ginger as a tonic root for over 5000 years to treat many ailments, in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. By the 1st century, traders had taken ginger into the Mediterranean regions. The Romans first imported ginger from China. Eventually, it became a popular spice in Rome. It was commonly used to make delicacy sweets in the medieval times.

Queen Elizabeth I of England is credited with the invention of the gingerbread man, which became a traditional Christmas treat.

Today, ginger is easily accessible in local grocery stores and throughout markets, but back in the 14th century it cost about the same amount as a live sheep or piece of livestock! It is reported that 100,000 tons of gingers are annually produced. The top commercial producers of ginger now include Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia.

Health benefits of ginger

  • Alleviates mild nausea: It is an excellent natural remedy for travel sickness, morning sickness and nausea. Drinking a cup of ginger tea before travelling can help prevent the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.
  • Stimulates digestion: You know that feeling after you eat a meal when it seems like a brick is in your stomach? Ginger has a long tradition of being effective in alleviating discomfort and pain in the stomach. It’s regarded as an excellent carminative, a substance that promotes the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system, and soothes the intestinal tract.

Ginger helps increase the body’s ability to empty food from the stomach more quickly - known as gastric emptying. With this increased motility in the digestive system, it’s less likely that heartburn or indigestion will occur.

  • Improve blood circulation: Ginger stimulates the tissues with the body, whilst lowering the blood pressure. This all encourages healthy circulation. Furthermore, ginger prevents platelets from clumping together in the bloodstream, which thins the blood, reducing risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots.
  • Reduce inflammation: Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it an ideal home remedy for muscle and joint problems. The active constituents in raw ginger-Gingerol, shogaol, and paradol - are responsible for many of the natural anti-inflammatory effects that ginger provides.
  • Fight respiratory problems: Ginger tea can help relieve congestion associated with the common cold. Try a cup of ginger tea for the respiratory symptoms associated with environmental allergies.
  • It can ease period cramps: This one is for all women suffering from menstrual cramps. Try soaking a towel in warm ginger tea and apply it to your lower abdomen. It may help relieve the pain and relax the muscles. One study found that ginger is as effective as ibuprofen in reducing the pain associated with menstruation.
  • Relieve stress: Ginger tea has calming properties that may help lower your stress and tension. This is thought to be due to a combination of the strong aroma and healing properties.
  • It can help you look younger: You probably see the buzzword ‘antioxidant’ splayed across your favourite expensive face cream. Ginger’s antioxidant content can help maintain your skin’s collagen production, which promotes skin elasticity and smoothness.
  • Helps warm you up when you are cold: Ginger’s circulatory, perspiration-inducing and stimulation properties mean that it can also warm you up when you are cold. So, when your body wants to start shutting down during the winter chill, bring more ginger into your daily cuisine and enjoy the naturally warming effect.

Here are a few quick tips on how to incorporate ginger into your diet:

  • Chew on a slice of ginger root a few minutes before each meal.
  • Add fresh ginger to a smoothie or juice;
  • Make fresh ginger lemonade,
  • Add fresh or dried ginger to your homemade salad dressing;
  • Add extra flavour and colour to your rice side dishes by sprinkling grated ginger on the top.
  • Use fresh or dried ginger to spice your foods as often as possible;

Fresh ginger v/s ground ginger:

Whenever possible, choose fresh ginger over dried - it is superior in flavour and contains higher levels of Gingerol. Fresh ginger has a stronger aroma compared to ground ginger. This characteristic comes from the essential oils present in ginger, which are lost if it is processed and stored. The taste that ginger imparts to a dish also depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will lend a subtle flavour, while added near the end, it will deliver a more pungent taste. Fresh ginger can be purchased in most supermarkets, and the mature roots have a tough skin that requires peeling. Fresh ginger can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks if left unpeeled.

Ginger tea

Nothing beats cold in the winter like a piping hot cup of ginger tea. With its high levels of Vitamin C, magnesium and other minerals, ginger root is extremely beneficial for health.

Once made into tea, you can add peppermint, honey or lemon to mask the taste of the ginger.

Ginger tea is great to drink when you feel a cold coming on. It’s a diaphoretic tea, meaning it will warm you from the inside and promote perspiration - so it’s just as good when you simply need to warm up.

Make your own ginger tea

To make ginger tea at home, simply slice 20-40 g of fresh ginger root and steep in a cup of boiling water. Allow the ginger to steep in hot water for 10 minutes. You can add a slice of lemon or a drop of honey to improve flavour. If it tastes too strong or spicy, you can simply dilute it with more hot water and honey. You can drink ginger tea two to three times a day, especially before meals, if you want to stimulate digestion.