Did you know that ginger is actually a reed-like plant? Some varieties can grow quite tall, over hip-height. When harvested, the tall leafy top is discarded. We eat the gnarled and bumpy root of the ginger plant (known as rhizomes). As with most plants it comes in several different varieties and colours. The origins of ginger trace back to southeastern Asia, China and India where its culinary use dates back over 4000 years. Ginger has been used as a home remedy through several generations for treatment of a variety of conditions. It is eaten to treat a number of different ailments including upset stomachs, diarrhea, colic and nausea just to name a few.
Ginger is a great source of powerful antioxidants such as gingerols, shogaols and zingerone. Which means adding fresh ginger to your daily diet has a number of wonderful health benefits. Here are my top three reasons for loving ginger.
1. Anti-inflammatory Effects
Studies have shown consuming half a teaspoon of the raw ginger lessened next-day muscle soreness by up to twenty-five percent. Research has also shown that it can even be more effective than popping stomach irritating NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Advil. Try adding fresh ginger to your post workout smoothie. Make some homemade juice, or even add a few slices to glass of hot water to sip on.
2. Gastrointestinal Relief
Ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is actually regarded as an excellent ‘carminative’ (preventing the formation of, or facilitating the expulsion of gas) and ‘intestinal spasmolytic’ (relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract).
3. Immune Boosting Action
Not only can ginger be warming on a cold day, it can promote healthy sweating that can help detoxify the body of a nasty cold or flu. It can also help eliminate congestion and ease a sore throat. Zingibain, a cysteine protease enzyme found in ginger can dissolve unwanted parasites and their eggs.
Here are a few tips for selecting, preparing and storing your ginger. Look for ginger tubers that are heavy for their size, firm, with smooth skin and a fresh, spicy fragrance. To prepare, simply use the back of a spoon to gently peel ginger, then shred, mince, slice or grate as needed. Ginger will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. To store, wrap it in a dry cloth or paper towel and then place it in an open plastic bag or container.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.