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Healthy Vegetarian Foods

A-Z Of Spices Featuring Ginger

I am going to be running a month or two behind – and hopefully catch up before 2020 ends and if I don’t then I will just continue posting till and when I reach Z

Ginger – the health benefits, nutritional values and taste enhancing properties of this spice is never ending – I am sure if I research enough – I will be able to write volumes – (I am not going to) – I am just going to skim over the interesting info.

Ginger is flowering plant – and the root/rhizome is what is widely known as ginger – it belongs to the same family as turmeric, cardamom and galangal (all cousins). Like most spices – it originated in South East Asia and reached all over the world via trade and migration of people.

Ginger is grown in many areas across the globe – it is amongst the earliest recorded spices to be cultivated and exported from South West India. India is the largest producer of ginger but it is not the highest exporter. Global production of ginger reached 2.8million tons in 2018 – led by India with 32%, China, Nigeria and Nepal had substantial production rates.

Ginger – a world renowned spice – used to flavour food and as an herbal medicine. The young ginger root is juicy and fleshy – can be pickled in vinegar and turmeric and enjoyed as a condiment with many dishes. It is also used for its fragrance, flavour and medicinal value in almost all Indian cooking. Slivers of fresh ginger can be steeped in boiling water/milk to make a nourishing comforting drink that is packed with health & wellness benefits. Ginger can be added to boost fresh veggie or fruit juices – thereby adding to the drinks nutritional value. Fresh ginger is one of the most important components of “Masala Chai” – chai is not chai without the double dose of ginger (ginger powder in chai masala & fresh ginger in the tea making process). It can also be candied and used in various types of confectionary. The dried powdered version of ginger can be used as a substitute for the fresh – however the dry version is best used for gingerbread, ginger cookies and in the making of traditional yummy ginger ale or ginger beer and fresh for cooking and candied for confectionary – their uses are innumerable just like its health & wellness benefits.

Ayurvedic medicine is synonymous with “natural health & wellness” – and ginger is one of the oldest medicinal herbs that Ayurvedic practices credit it for being the “universal great medicine”. An old Indian proverb says that “everything that is good is found in ginger” and Chinese medicine claims that ginger “restores devastated yang & expels cold”. Western modern science has given its “stamp of approval” in its usefulness in treating a variety of conditions. The amount of therapeutic compounds in ginger is determined by when it is was harvested, how it was processed and where it was grown – since its origination in South East Asia and not surprising that ancient Indian and Chinese healers have made “ginger” their “must haves” in their medicinal kits. Ayurvedic practices and Indian ‘grandmothers’ added ginger powder to all food preparations intended for pregnant woman or lactating mothers – because it eased the digestion process and provided “health” for the new born.

Benefits of consuming ginger as medicine

  • Nausea – ginger aids in decreasing nausea from chemotherapy, pregnancy, illness and motion sickness. It is known to inhibit the nausea causing effects at both brain and gut level
  • Digestion – again it is a valued digestive aid since the “Middle Ages” – it can be used to relax over-active stomach contractions – allowing the stomach contents to enter the intestines – this could decrease heartburn
  • Anti-Bacterial – ginger can help destroy the “stomach ulcer” causing bacteria
  • Blood Pressure & Asthma – it can aid in controlling high blood pressure – consumption of ginger over a long period of time – may promote muscle relaxation and more supple blood vessels and as a result benefit asthmatics to a great extent
  • Cholesterol – again ginger to your aid – it could aid in decreasing the livers production of cholesterol and increase cholesterol excretion (via bile or faecal excretion)
  • Cancer – ginger to the rescue – tumour promotion is linked with inflammation and oxidative stress – therefore the anti-inflammatory and oxidative properties of ginger could assist in curtailing the spread or prevention of cancer
  • Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Oxidant – yes! Regular consumption of ginger may assist in muscle pain, inflammation
  • Migraines – ginger can assist in reducing pain – the same way as some prescription medication
  • Immune – gingerol – a compound found in ginger that has antioxidant properties that help support a your immune system
  • Diabetes is a huge problem world wide – and it has been found that some active compounds found in ginger can show improvement in insulin and metabolism. However if you are diabetic – adding sugary treats containing ginger will do you more harm than good. Add it to your tea, cooking and etc. without the addition of sugar
  • Remedy for Cold – As per Ayurvedic teachings – ginger is one of the best remedies for the cold – combine 1 part ginger, 1 part cinnamon and 2 parts lemon grass – steep 1 teaspoon of this formula in a cup of hot water for 5-6 minutes – strain add honey if needed and sip – this will reduce the symptoms of the cold
  • Menstrual Pain – ladies take note – consuming ginger can significantly reduce menstrual cramps and you can just have a cup of warm ginger tea to ease your pain

Ginger In General

  • Can be used as foot soak or added to your bath for the relief of pain and tiredness
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties and anti-bacterial properties could aid in keeping skin clear and free of blemishes
  • Topically applied and regular consumption could help warding of decolourisation and early signs of aging
  • Ginger is one of the main ingredients in Kimchi – and Kimchi aids is gut health- all round benefit
  • Ginger as food – pick firm, shiny-skinned pieces of roots. Peeled and sealed ginger will keep in the fridge for about 2weeks and unpeeled pieces can be stored in cool dark place for weeks, and if required to store for a longer period – peel and freeze – peel ginger before consuming. Fresh, crystallised, preserved, dried or pickled ginger can be consumed and ensure you are not consuming more than 4g of ginger per day in the form of food, drinks and supplements.

Ginger is known for its health & wellness benefits + plus its spicy flavor since the beginning of time – however it definitely does not mean it is a “cure for all of your health woes” – in addition to consuming ginger – you need to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and keep to your regular medical check-ups.

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