The health benefits of ginger are plentiful and it is often classed as a wonder spice with both medicinal and culinary upsides. Over forty-four hundred years ago, according to “Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Herbs”, Greek bakers made gingerbread from ginger that was imported from the Orient. In the sixteenth century the Spanish were cultivating it. From Jamaica conquistadors brought it to the New World. In 1884 Great Britain was importing well over 5 million pounds of ginger root. The origin of ginger is uncertain. It is believed to be native to southern China and India. It was then introduced into southern Florida. It grows well in fertile, well-drained and moist soil that can be partially shaded.
The Diverse Nutrition and Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger contains bisabolene, borneal, borneol, camphene, choline, cineole, citral, ginerol, inositol, volatile oils, PABA, phellandrene, acrid resin, sequiterpene, many B vitamins, zingerone, and zingiberene. It has been used throughout history to treat colitis, diverticulosis, nausea, gas and indigestion, paralysis of the tongue, morning sickness, vomiting, hot flashes and menstrual cramps. It is said to cleanse the colon and stimulate circulation. It has also been used to treat colds and sore throat.
Although ginger can be very spicy to the tongue it purportedly is good for indigestion. It is a safe and effective herb. There has been some research to suggest that it is very effective against motion sickness as well. Ginger helps to promote circulation and is a very mild stimulant. Ginger tea is said to be very effective in preventing colds. It can also be used in the spring to make an excellent spring tonic to wake up the body after a long cold winter and many claim it is able to cleanse the blood – or at the very least give an invigorating jump start.
Ginger is grown throughout much of the tropics commercially and in other regions it can be grown in a container or container gardening. To grow your own, give your purchased rhizome plenty of warmth, humidity and moisture after planting. You can move it outdoors in warmer months in a somewhat shady area. About 12 months after planting, you can remove it from the pot. Remove the fibrous roots. Cut off as much as you can use. Save a small amount to replant again in a new pot. You can buy ginger commercially fresh, dried ground or in dry pieces. Fresh ginger needs to be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator. It can last for several months when stored this way.
Ginger Ale Recipe
Who hasn’t enjoyed a tall frosty glass of ginger ale? Ginger ale was considered the most popular soft drink in the U.S. in early years between 1860 and the 1930’s. There are several different types of recipes around for how to make your own home made ginger ale or ginger beer. A simple home recipe for ginger ale is to take some fresh ginger and crush the root. Place one cup of the root into a gallon or so of water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and let it steep about 15 minutes. This will release the powerful flavor and health properties of the ginger. You then strain it. You may add honey or the sweetener of your choice to this tea. Then just add your desired amount to some carbonated water.
Ginger ale commonly contains ginger, sugar, and carbonated water. Ginger beer has a stronger flavor of ginger, and is less carbonated and much less sweet. For those trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption ginger ale can be used as a nonalcoholic substitute in punches and for champagne at various events and occasions. These beverages can resemble champagne and other flavored alcohols in appearance. Ginger ale has been given to many to calm an upset stomach. This is due to the presence of ginger + carbonated water having a calming effect on the stomach.
Other Culinary Uses for Ginger
Ginger is a super sugar substitute that will provide a great taste with almost no calories added. You can use it in making gingerbread, spice cookies and cakes. It enhances many meat dishes such as chicken and beef and for making sauces and marinades. A little ground ginger added to mayonnaise makes a great topping for a pear salad. A chef suggestion is to put 1 slice of peeled fresh ginger into a marinade you make for each pound of meat or poultry. If you like fried chicken and livers, you can make seasoned flour shaking some ground ginger into the flour mix to toss the meat in before frying. Ginger root can be used fresh or dried in recipes from North Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Japan, China and East India. In Chinese cooking, you usually will find that first you brown a piece of fresh ginger root. Then you add your stir-fry vegetables to this.
To make ginger tea, use a pinch to a tablespoon of ginger powder per cup of boiling water. You can also grate or slice the fresh root and then simmer it in water until you have what is yellowish water. You can also add other useful herbs to the steeping water such as peppermint, a little clove powder or a few bruised cloves. Let it steep and strain and drink throughout the day to promote good health. If you prefer a stronger tea, increase the amount of ginger rather than letting it steep for a long period of time.
Ginger baths can be another great health benefit besides just consumption of the herb. Ginger baths can help ease pain and increase circulation. Just drop a few grated gingers into your bath and soak. You can also soak cloths in ginger tea and apply these directly to the painful area on the body.
While speaking of the benefits of ginger, there are those who may be allergic to ginger. Severe allergic reactions to ginger might include a rash, hives, difficulty in breathing, and various forms of dermatitis. If this is the case, stop taking ginger immediately and seek some medical attention. Few side effects have been associated with ginger taken at low dosages. In conclusion, there seem to be many benefits to adding ginger to your diet. The health benefits of ginger are exceptional and it has the ability to add great flavor to the diet.
A fiery spice, the health benefits of ginger stretch from increasing circulation to helping with indigestion as well as being an ingredient in many dishes from around the world and is easy to incorporate into many simple and quick dishes as part of your daily diet.
Jeff Andrews writes about the many common foods that are beneficial to your health.