WHAT IS GINGER?
Ginger is a herb with thick stems and roots that live underground. Ginger root is branched with "hands" and "fingers", has a brown skin and paler flesh inside.
Why exactly is ginger so great to eat?
Ginger is super effective in soothing symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Ginger is a carminative, promoting elimination of intestinal wind, and also a spasmolytic, meaning it is relaxing and soothing to the intestines.
Ginger has been well studied in alleviating motion sickness and nausea. in addition to helping reduce symptoms of morning sickness in early stages of pregnancy.
Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds, called gingerols, which prevent the formation of inflammatory compounds produced by the immune system. Because of these anti-inflammatory compounds, studies have shown ginger to be very effective in reducing pain and swelling in patients, most particularly those people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
In relation to sporting performance, ginger has been shown in several studies to increase joint mobility and reduce stiffness in endurance athletes.
Ginger is generally sold in supermarkets either as dried roots or ginger powder, the ground spice made from dried root.
Other forms of ginger available to buy include:
Stem ginger - fresh, young roots, peeled and sliced, cooked in sugar syrup and stored together.
Crystallized ginger - similar to stem ginger. It is cooked in sugar syrup then air-dried and rolled in sugar.
Pickled ginger is finely sliced root pickled in vinegar, often served with sushi.
In Winter, ginger in tea is highly effective when you feel a cold coming on or want to warm up quickly. Easiest way to use is by steeping a 2cm piece of peeled and finely chopped ginger root in hot water.
Or you can simply add some finely sliced ginger root to stews, soups or curries for extra warmth and gut soothing.
Personally, I always add a teaspoon of dried ginger to apple crumble for an extra kick!
Do you already use ginger in cooking? Tell me how.
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Helen Morton, registered Nutritional Therapist. sports nutritionist, runner and food lover, sharing latest nutrition research and recipes.