Ginger is a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. It's one of the world's healthiest (and most delicious) spices.
It is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and is related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.
The rhizome (underground stem part) is the most commonly used spice. It's also known as ginger root or simply ginger.
Fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, ginger can be used in a variety of ways. It's a common ingredient in cooking. It is occasionally found in processed foods and cosmetics.
Here are 11 health benefits of ginger backed up by scientific evidence.
1. Contains gingerol, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger has a long history of use in both traditional and alternative medicine. To name a few of its applications, it has been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and fight the flu and common cold.
The unique fragrance and flavour of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.
The main bioactive compound in ginger is gingerol. It is responsible for a large portion of ginger's medicinal properties.
According to studies, gingerol has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For example, it may aid in the reduction of oxidative stress, which is caused by an excess of free radicals in the body (1, 2).
Ginger contains a lot of gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
2. Can be used to treat a variety of nausea symptoms, particularly morning sickness.
Ginger appears to have a high anti-nausea efficacy (3).
It may, however, be the most effective for pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.
According to a meta-analysis of 12 studies involving 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce nausea symptoms.
This review, however, concluded that ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes (8).
Although ginger is considered safe, if you are pregnant, consult your doctor before taking large amounts.
Pregnant women who are nearing labour or who have had miscarriages should avoid ginger. Ginger is also contraindicated if you have a history of vaginal bleeding or clotting disorders (9).
Just 1–1.5 grams of ginger can help prevent a variety of nausea symptoms, including chemotherapy-related nausea, post-surgery nausea, and morning sickness.
3. May aid in weight loss
According to human and animal studies, ginger may play a role in weight loss.
According to a 2019 literature review, ginger supplementation significantly reduced body weight, the waist-hip ratio, and the hip ratio in people who were overweight or obese (10).
In a 2016 study of 80 obese women, ginger was found to help reduce body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels. Obesity is linked to high blood insulin levels.
According to a 2019 review of functional foods literature, ginger has a very positive effect on obesity and weight loss. However, more research is required (13).
Animal studies provide more evidence in favour of ginger's role in obesity prevention.
Ginger may help improve weight-related measurements, according to animal and human studies. Body weight and waist-hip ratio are two examples.
4. Can aid in the treatment of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common medical condition.
It is characterised by joint degeneration, which causes symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness.
According to one review of the literature, people who used ginger to treat their OA experienced significant reductions in pain and disability (17).
Only mild side effects, such as a dissatisfaction with the taste of ginger, were observed. Despite this, nearly 22% of study participants dropped out due to the taste of ginger and stomach upset.
Participants in the study were given 500 milligrams (mg) to 1 gram of ginger every day for 3 to 12 weeks. The majority of them had been diagnosed with knee OA (17).
Another 2011 study discovered that a combination of topical ginger, mastic, cinnamon, and sesame oil can help reduce pain and stiffness in people with knee OA (18).
Ginger has been shown in some studies to be effective in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly knee osteoarthritis.
5. It has the potential to significantly lower blood sugar levels and improve risk factors for heart disease.
Although this field of study is still in its early stages, ginger may have potent anti-diabetic properties.
In a 2015 study of 41 people with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 12%. (19).
It also significantly improved haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a long-term blood sugar level marker. Over a 12-week period, HbA1c was reduced by 10%.
There was also a 28% decrease in the Apolipoprotein B/Apolipoprotein A-I ratio and a 23% decrease in malondialdehyde (MDA), an oxidative stress byproduct. A high ApoB/ApoA-I ratio, as well as high MDA levels, are both significant risk factors for heart disease (19).
Keep in mind, however, that this was only one small study. The findings are extremely encouraging, but they must be confirmed in larger studies before any recommendations can be made.
In somewhat encouraging news, a 2019 literature review concluded that ginger significantly reduced HbA1c in type 2 diabetes patients. However, it was discovered that ginger had no effect on fasting blood sugar (20).
Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve several risk factors for heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Can aid in the treatment of chronic indigestion
Chronic indigestion is distinguished by recurring pain and discomfort in the upper portion of the stomach.
It is thought that delayed stomach emptying is a major cause of indigestion. Surprisingly, ginger has been shown to hasten stomach emptying (21).
In a small 2011 study, people with functional dyspepsia, or indigestion with no known cause, were given ginger capsules or a placebo. After an hour, they were all served soup.
It took 12.3 minutes for the stomach to empty in people who received ginger. In those who received the placebo, it took 16.1 minutes (22).
These effects have also been observed in people who do not have indigestion. In a 2008 study conducted by some of the same research team members, 24 healthy people were given ginger capsules or a placebo. An hour later, they were all served soup.
Consuming ginger instead of a placebo significantly accelerated stomach emptying. It took 13.1 minutes for those who were given ginger and 26.7 minutes for those who were given a placebo (23).
Ginger appears to hasten stomach emptying, which may be beneficial for people suffering from indigestion and other stomach discomfort.
7. It has the potential to significantly reduce menstrual pain.
Dysmenorrhea is pain experienced during the menstrual cycle.
Ginger has long been used to treat pain, including menstrual cramps.
In a 2009 study, 150 women were given the choice of taking ginger or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the first three days of their menstrual period.
The three groups each received four daily doses of ginger powder (250 mg), mefenamic acid (250 mg), or ibuprofen (250 mg) (400 mg). Ginger relieved pain just as well as the two NSAIDs (24).
While these findings are encouraging, more high-quality studies with a larger sample size are still required. (27).
Ginger appears to be very effective at relieving menstrual pain when taken at the start of the menstrual cycle.
8. It is possible that it will aid in the reduction of cholesterol levels.
High LDL (bad) cholesterol levels have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
The foods you eat can have a significant impact on your LDL levels.
In a 2018 study of 60 people with hyperlipidemia, 30 people who received 5 grams of ginger-pasted powder daily saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels drop by 17.4% over a 3-month period (28).
While the reduction in LDL cholesterol is impressive, it's important to remember that study participants were given extremely high doses of ginger.
Many people dropped out of an OA study in which they were given doses of 500 mg–1 gram of ginger because they had a bad taste in their mouth (17).
Doses used in the hyperlipidemia study are 5–10 times higher. Most people are unlikely to be able to maintain a 5-gram dose for long enough to see results (28).
An older study from 2008 found that people who took 3 grams of ginger powder (in capsule form) every day had significant reductions in most cholesterol markers. Over the course of 45 days, their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels fell by 10%. (29).
A study in rats with hypothyroidism or diabetes backs up these findings. Ginger extract reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol in the same way that the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin did (30).
There is some evidence that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels in both humans and animals.
9. Contains a substance that may aid in the prevention of cancer.
Ginger has been researched as an alternative cancer treatment.
2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signalling molecules in the colon in a 28-day study of people at normal risk for colorectal cancer (33).
A follow-up study in people at high risk of colorectal cancer, on the other hand, did not yield the same results (34).
Ginger contains the substance gingerol, which appears to have anti-cancer properties. More research, however, is required.
10. It is possible that it will improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer's disease.
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress can hasten the ageing process.
They are thought to be one of the primary causes of Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive decline.
According to animal studies, the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses in the brain (39).
There is also some evidence that ginger can directly improve brain function. Daily doses of ginger extract were shown to improve reaction time and working memory in a 2012 study of healthy middle-aged women (40).
Animal studies suggest that ginger can protect the brain from age-related damage. It can also help middle-aged women improve their brain function.
11. Can aid in the fight against infections
Gingerol can aid in the prevention of infections.
According to a 2008 study, it is extremely effective against the oral bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontitis. Both of these are inflammatory gum diseases (46).
Fresh ginger may also be beneficial in the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common cause of respiratory infections (47).
Ginger may aid in the fight against harmful bacteria and viruses, potentially lowering your risk of infection.
Including ginger in your diet
If you want to incorporate ginger into your diet, you can do so through the foods and beverages you consume. Here are a few recipes for chicken and beverages to try:
- ginger chicken • garlic-ginger chicken with cilantro and mint • spicy orange-ginger chicken • lemon-ginger chicken • fresh ginger tea • ginger root tea • malian ginger juice
Ginger is high in nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
It's one of the very few superfoods that truly deserves the moniker.