Monday, 1 October 2012

Ingredient of the month 13: Ginger- its uses and health benefits

Fresh ginger root

This month, as the weather in the Northern hemisphere heads into Autumn, I though I'd feature this well-known spice for its warming properties. Ginger needs no introduction as it's used so widely, but did you know how healthy as well as tasty it is?
Ginger is also known by its funky-sounding botanical name, Zingiber officinale ("officinale" means it's used by herbalists as a medicine). It is a native of tropical climes, but has been imported and used worldwide for many centuries. The uses of ginger are many and varied; as fresh root, it can be used in curries and to make teas and soft drinks. Crystallised or candied, it is eaten as a sweet and as powder it is used in baking cakes and cookies. In Ayurveda, ginger is recommended to be chewed just before eating a meal to stimulate the appetite and to enhance digestion by strengthening the agni, or digestive fire.
Nutrition:
Ginger is a low-calorie food and rich in vitamins B5 and B6. It also contains vitamin C. In terms of minerals, ginger is a source of potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium.
Health benefits and medicinal uses:
The potassium in ginger can help to control heart rate and blood pressure. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory. It is great for the digestion, and can kill certain microbes too. (Remember the old remedy of drinking a tea of lemon, honey and ginger when you have a cold?)
Ginger contains several essential oils which benefit health, among them gingerol, which can relieve the nausea caused by motion or morning sickness (I can vouch for this!) Gingerols can even alleviate pain, soothe the nerves and bring down a fever. Eaten in the early stages, ginger's essential oils can also relieve a migraine. Another essential oil in ginger, zingerone, can cure the diarrhea brought on by E coli.
Gingery recipes from this blog:
Click here, here , here, here, here and here.... and have a good look around- there's more :)

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