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The World of Rhizome: Ginger

Ginger Root

Ginger. Photo Credit: Juicepress.com

The spicy root we call ginger is actually an underground rhizome of a small herb plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, of the genus Zingiber. Ginger is the common name; the primary plant used medicinally is Zingiber officinale. The plant parts used for both culinary and medicinal purposes are the rhizomes, the root-like stems that grow underground. Not only is ginger a culinary marvel, its health benefits are stunning. The root often contains fibrils running through its center, especially in matured stems. Its pungent, spicy and aromatic smell is due to essential oils and phenolic compounds such as gingerols, shogaols, zingerone, farnesene, which are similar to chili peppers capsaicin. Ginger’s culinary qualities are a delight, standard in many kitchens and cuisines, it is the seasoning that gives life to a host of dishes and is also included in popular recipes such as ginger ale, ginger beer, gingerbread, ginger biscuits and ginger cake.

There is just so much to love about this herb. Today ginger is one of the most important spices worldwide. It has been shown to be more effective against bacterial staph infections than antibiotics.  It has the ability to kill cancer cells. Its anti-inflammatory effects are already famous. It can resolve brain inflammations, and ease or cure a variety of gut problems, such as ulcerative colitis and acid reflux. It is known to promote energy circulation in the body while positively increasing the body’s metabolic rate.

The ginger herb is thought to originate in the foothills of the Himalayas in North India, where it was originally cultivated and has been used medicinally for more than 2,000 years. Today, it is widely grown all over the world as a major commercial crop. Ginger plant grows to about a meter in height. The fully grown plant features thin grass-like dark green leaves and small yellow flowers. Ginger is cultivated all year round and can be cultivated approximately 3 – 5 months after it was planted. The ginger plant is approximately 30 – 60 cm tall and is extremely rare to find in the wild. Its roots feature knotty finger-like projections that grow downward from the ground surface. The ginger root is not actually a root, but a rhizome.  Major producers of Ginger today are China and tropical/subtropical places in Asia, Brazil, Jamaica, and Nigeria.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Protein & Amino Acids

Carbohydrates (Dietary Fiber, Starch, Sugars)

Vitamins (Vitamin D, Vitamin E Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B, Folate Vitamin B12)

Minerals (Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese)

Fats & Fatty Acids

Others (Alcohol, Water, Ash, Caffeine) etc.

Ginger has been in use since ancient times because of its anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent, and anti-microbial properties. Ginger features in a lot of home remedies and can be used to combat arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, stomach upset and motion sickness.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER

  • Diabetes Complications: Complications of diabetes may be limited by ginger. Studies have shown that it may reduce urine protein levels, decrease water intake and urine output, and reverse proteinuria.
  • Cancer: Several studies have demonstrated ginger’s ability to defeat several types of cancer cells, including some of the most aggressive and difficult to treat: lung, ovarian, colon, breast, skin carcinoma, prostate, and pancreatic.
  • Gingerols in ginger helps improve intestinal motility and have anti-inflammatory, painkiller (analgesic), nerve soothing, anti-pyretic as well as anti-bacterial properties. Studies have shown that it may reduce nausea induced by motion sickness or pregnancy and may help relieve migraine headaches.
  • Radiation: With radiation in the news lately, it’s wonderful to learn that ginger has been proven to provide significant benefit against it. Study shows that it can help prevent vomiting and taste distortion associated with radiation poisoning.
  • It contains many essential nutrients and vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) that are required for optimum health.
  • Zingerone, a chemical compound which gives pungent character to the ginger root, is effective against induced diarrhea, especially in children.

Furthermore, the herb also contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. The health benefits of honey and ginger in treating respiratory problems are unmatched by any other concoction.

Garlic goes well with ginger when cooking – Learn more about Garlic and its health benefits.

HEALTH IS WEALTH, Eat and stay healthy.

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