Sooth a cold with honey, ginger and lemon — Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Spicy and aromatic, ginger has an undeniable flavor that can be enjoyed both sweet and savory. While ginger is available throughout the world, it's indigenous to Southern China and over time it has made its way across Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Today, India is the largest producer of the root.
Ginger can be grown in warm climates and the clusters of pink and white buds that bloom into yellow flowers make it a popular choice for landscaping in sub-tropical areas.
While this root packs a punch in the flavor department, the health benefits of ginger are plentiful.
Magnesium, chromium, and zinc can help improve blood flow and ginger contains all three of these elements. When you’re sick with the chills, fever, and the sweats, load up on ginger, as it can also help kick these symptoms.
Is your tummy feeling a little worse for wear? Ginger may also help with an upset tummy from a stomach bug, vertigo, or indigestion.
Inflammation and pain often go hand-in-hand, and ginger is well known to have natural anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce inflammation. Turmeric is a part of the same family as ginger and is another popular choice for dealing with inflammation. You can ingest it through cooking, pills, or grate up the root into a paste and apply it topically. Just don't be alarmed if the root temporarily dyes your skin a slight orange hue.
These health benefits are just the beginning, as ginger is said have many more uses. Some studies show it may help with cancer prevention, toothaches, headaches, heartburn, boosting the immune system, and more.
Ginger's beautiful bloom — Photo courtesy of Jayen466 (Wikimedia Commons)
How to Enjoy Ginger
Whether it's fresh, powdered, pickled, or candied, ginger can be used in all types of cuisines and prepared in a variety of ways.
Fighting a cold? Take a decent-sized chunk and grate a one-inch piece of peeled ginger. Combine it with six cups of boiling water, the juice of one lemon and about 1/3 of a cup of high-quality honey, and stir it all up. You can also add in a couple of your favorite tea bags if you want. Sip this zesty tincture the next time you're curled up on the couch with a case of the sniffles.
Curries are a delicious way to enjoy fresh and powdered ginger. From Thai green curry to Indian chana masala, there are plenty of recipes out there that will satisfy your appetite. If making a curry is a little daunting, start with something more simple like a butternut squash soup and throw in some freshly grated ginger for something quick, healthy, and satisfying. Stir-frys are another easy and quick way to cook with this tasty root.
After getting your veggies in, it's time for dessert. From ginger snap cookies and ginger pumpkin muffins to ginger ice cream and chocolate-covered candied ginger, there's no shortage of sweet treats out there.
Looking for something to wash it all down with? A cold ginger beer is crisp and refreshing, while a warm cup of Indian chai soothes.
Many of these uses continue to be studied and if you want to use ginger for medicinal purposes, it's best to consult your physician prior to doing so.