June 23, 2010

Super Food: Ginger

The benefits of ginger are overlooked in Western world largely I think because we often see ginger served with Japanese food, and Americans tend to equate anything resembling an Asian herbal remedy to a mysterious kung fu wizard with a 3 foot goatee and a green tea fetish.  HAI!

Researchers have started studying ginger and through the scientific method have started to climb on board with 4,000 years of ancient Asian white rice samurai magic. It turns out; ginger is good for more than just cleansing the palate after spicy tuna rolls.

Ginger is highly recommended for nausea (I have been supplied many a candied ginger pill while racing as nausea is a common side effect of distance running), reportedly because elements of ginger aid in “gastrointestinal transport”. For this reason ginger is recommended to pregnant women and people subject to motion sickness.

Ginger has also been shown to reduce the instance of certain kinds of cancer and aid in the treatment of other devastating illnesses. Ginger is an antioxidant and contains what scientists have defined as 6-gingerol which reduces the depletion of naturally produced antioxidants in the body and inhibits production of nitrous oxide (a harmful free radical). Diabetic rats given ginger supplements have been shown to have higher levels of antioxidants and have reduced nephropathy compared to control groups. Scientists suspect that the ginger is helpful in treating this disease because it aids in blood vessel balance. Some cancer patients may have a call to be optimistic, as ginger has been shown to kill ovarian cancer cells, and slow the growth of colon cancer.

Ginger is used sometime to control inflammation and act as a pain killer for cramping, arthritis migraines, even heart burn. Ginger has been shown to relieve pain in some arthritis patients when all other forms of pain killers failed. Ginger has even been shown to thin the blood and lower cholesterol, aiding in the prevention of heart disease.

The beauty of Ginger is that it is common in most markets, cheap, keeps for a while in the fridge, is safe to take in large doses, and not many people are allergic to it. So eat up, put it in your soups and in your salads. Bake it with your chicken and soak it in your soup. For a simple fix, soak a few slices in hot water & throw in some lime, brown sugar and honey for a delicious tea. Zest up your lemonade, make your own salad dressing or sauté it with your vegetables. Ginger is just another example of why it is important to have a varied diet full of a variety of fruits, vegetables and tubers and I have made an active effort to always have some in the house.

Next Time on Popular Excuses:  Is it OK to blame Fast Food?
Reading List
10 Benefits of Ginger (with links to other articles)
NY Times article on Ginger & Cancer
Worlds Healthiest Foods - Ginger
Wiki on Ginger
Ginger Recipe - grouprecipes.com: Ginger Honey Dressing
Ginger Tea Recipe

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