By Joey Gerardi, CSUN Dietetic Intern, M.S. in Human Nutrition Candidate
Do you ever go to sushi restaurants and the first items they offer you are wasabi and ginger? The reason sushi restaurants give you ginger is because of its strong flavor, which cleanses your palate in between courses! This allows you to fully enjoy the flavors of each piece of sushi you are served. What the sushi chefs don’t tell you is that there are all kinds of health benefits from ginger!
Where Does Ginger Come From?
You may be asking yourself, what is ginger and where does it even come from? Being utilized all the way back to ancient times, ginger comes to us from the root of an herb called Zingiber officinale and is a member of the Zingiberaceae family.1,2 If you are familiar with ginger, you may have noticed its strong flavor and odor. Ginger gets those distinctive qualities from oils in the root known as “sequiterpene hydrocarbons, predominantly zingiberol.”2 Once the Zingiber officinale grows to 2-4 feet, the roots are dug up from the ground and prepped for our consumption.1 It is typically grown in various tropical regions and is widely eaten across the globe.2 The uses of ginger are considered safe for human consumption, as determined by the US Food and Drug Administration, and include use as both a spice to enhance the flavor of foods and for medicinal purposes. 2
Health Benefits of Ginger
A 2016 publication discusses some clinical benefits ginger has on the body, highlighting its effectiveness to safely treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy as well as during chemotherapy.2 Researchers estimated that close to 80% of pregnant women suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP), commonly known as morning sickness, and its exact causes are unclear and likely related to a large number of factors.3 While there are many medications available to treat NVP, many women feel more comfortable using natural means to heal their NVP symptoms.2 One multinational study looked at prevalence of herbal medicine being utilized among pregnant women, and out of the 134 various herbs being used, ginger accounted for the highest usage. 2
Nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy (CINV) is one of the most agonizing symptoms of chemotherapy treatment.2 In looking at CINV, the three stages that typically occur are: “anticipatory nausea (before initiation of chemotherapy), acute nausea (occurring within 24 hours of chemotherapy), and delayed nausea (24 hours to five days postchemotherapy).”2 One recent double-blind multicenter study tested the effects of ginger on over 500 cancer patients and concluded that the use of ginger significantly reduced instances of acute nausea, but not delayed nausea.2
Additionally, Lori Zanini, Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) wrote that ginger, along with others spices and roots including clove, turmeric, and coriander, have been found to increase antibodies, act as inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents, as well as improve your immune system responses.4 Additionally, ginger is known to contain many compounds such as gingerol, known to help treat a wide variety of ailments including nausea, colds, and even gastrointestinal issues.1 Some studies have even found evidence of ginger’s ability to “protect tissues and organs against oxidative damage and prevent cancer development and growth.”1
8 Quick Tips to Enjoy Ginger!6
1. Broccoli Sauté
Sauté ginger and garlic in olive oil until slightly brown, add broccoli, sesame seeds, sliced almonds (note: almonds, seeds, or garlic can be left out according to taste desired). Sauté until broccoli is bright green and tender.
2. Ginger Tea
Slice up some fresh ginger root from the market (peeled or unpeeled), pour boiling water over it, add a bit of honey and lemon if desired for taste, cozy up on the couch and enjoy!
3. Pickled Ginger
This can be purchased from the store and enjoyed with sushi, sandwiches, or salads to add a fresh taste.
Next time you’re making fish for dinner, try adding grated ginger mixed with bread crumbs, garlic, and cilantro over any type of white fish (e.g. Mahi mahi or tilapia) and bake in the over at 400 degrees F until fish is fully cooked and flaky.
5. Use it as an Accent
Ginger can add amazing flavor to what can be rather ordinary foods such as apples or sweet potatoes, which can also be added as sides or into salads!
Use your ginger to create a tasty sauce to be used on proteins, as salad dressing, or even a dipping sauce! An example is an orange garlic glaze that you can dip veggies into.
7. Add it to Soup
Grating or pureeing fresh ginger can bring wonderful zest into creamy/hot soups, including ones that have veggies and fall fruits.
8. Spice Up Your Stir Fry
You can never go wrong from adding some minced or grated ginger into your next stir fry!
My Favorite Ginger Recipe: Vegetarian Fried Rice! 6
Author: Silvia Pinto, Drexel Food Lab
- ½ inch ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ cup Hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced into half-moons
- 2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
- 2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
- 3 cups kale, chopped
- 2 eggs
- In a small bowl whisk together ginger, garlic, scallion, sesame oil, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce and honey to make the sauce.
- Heat a wok or large sauté pan on medium heat and add the canola oil. Add the carrots to the pan and cook until they begin to soften. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until soft, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the cooked rice, kale and sauce to the pan. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Create a well in the middle of the rice. Scramble the eggs in a small bowl. Pour the eggs into the well and stir until they are cooked through. Once the eggs are cooked mix into the rice and serve.
Looking for more ginger recipes?
Be sure to subscribe to our Marilyn Magaram Center YouTube Channel and try one of our ginger recipes:
- Tempest, M. Adding Spice for a Healthier Life — Evidence Shows Antioxidant-Rich Herbs and Spices May Cut Chronic Disease Risk. Today’s Dietitian. 2012; 14(9): 40. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030612p40.shtml Accessed October 20, 2018.
- Lete I., Allué J. The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integr Med Insights. 2016;11:11-7. Published 2016 Mar 31. doi:10.4137/IMI.S36273
- Lee NM, Saha S. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2011;40(2):309-34, vii.
- Zanini, L. 6 Ways to (Naturally) Boost your Immune System. Food and Nutrition Magazine. Updated November 8, 2017. https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/6-ways-naturally-boost-immune-system/ Accessed October 20, 2018.
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Ginger. Fruits & Veggies-More Matters. Updated September 27, 2011. https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-ginger Accessed October 20, 2018.
- Pinto, S. Vegetarian Fried Rice. Cook For Your LIFE. https://www.cookforyourlife.org/recipes/vegetarian-fried-rice/ Accessed October 20, 2018.
bookmarked!!, I love your website!