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The versatile Ginger – friend or foe?

Ginger

 

Ginger -one of the healthiest dietary condiment. The amazing ginger is very supportive to the entire body. Most of it is used in dishes to give it a dynamic taste. It has an aromatic and spicy flavour which adds a bunch of taste to any dish. Making dishes tasty is not just the limit of ginger, it also offers innumerable health benefits.

Introduction:

The spice of dishes “ginger” is a flowering plant which is originated from the rhizomes of the plant Zingiber officinale belonging to family Zingiberaceae. It has been widely used as a dynamic spice for centuries. It is believed that ginger is a native of southern Asia as it is consumed lot over Asia in traditional cuisines. Ginger contains powerful ingredients which possess antibacterial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, anti-parasitic and anti-viral properties.

Active Constituents:

Ginger contains the most powerful ingredients like [6]-shogaol, 5-methoxy [6]-gingerol, Zingerone, [6]-gingerol, [10]-gingerol, zerumbone, paradol, 1-dehydro-(10-gingerdione), flavonoids and terpenoids [1].

Nutrition in ginger:

Ginger is filled with high-quality vitamins, minerals as well as many other nutrients.

100gms of ginger contains [2]

Nutrition

Scientifically proven health benefits of ginger:

  • Potential analgesic: Ginger is well known for its painkiller property. If we have been doing exercise regularly then we often suffer from muscle soreness. They are very painful sometimes. Prostaglandin is the hormone responsible for inducing pain and inflammation. Ginger alleviates the pain and inflammation by reducing the level of prostaglandin hormone. It also works on the pain receptors themselves [3].
  • Eases menstrual pain: Dysmenorrhea and headaches are common menstrual problems. Ginger is helpful in alleviating this kind of pain also. A study published in the journal of alternative and complementary medicines had shown the analgesic effect of ginger like ibuprofen and mefenamic during periods [4].
  • Anti-inflammatory property: Ginger contains gingerol which is found to be having anti-inflammatory property. Ginger blocks the activities of COX enzymes and the production of prostaglandin. It contains 1-Dehydro-(10)-gingerdione, an active ingredient in ginger which can regulate inflammatory genes by inhibiting NF-κB pathway [5]. Osteoarthritis is the common problem worldwide. A study found that a combination of ginger, cinnamon, mastic and sesame oil can alleviate the pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients [6].
  • Treatment of nausea: Ginger prevents overactivation of the vagal nerve which induces nausea and vomiting. It can alleviate the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in people suffering from cancer [7]. It is also effective against morning sickness in early pregnancy[8]. Ginger was also used to fight sea-sickness. A study revealed that ginger was equally as effective as over-the-counter anti-nausea drugs when tested on sailors [9] .
  • Lowers blood sugar: Ginger is also helpful in alleviating blood sugar levels. It may have anti-diabetic properties. There are certain studies that show the insulin sensitivity of ginger and eases diabetes symptoms. In a recent study of 2015, 41 participants with type 2 diabetes were studied, 2 grams of ginger powder per day alleviated fasting blood sugar by 12% [10] .
  • Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties: Ginger is not only a spice, it is also an infection fighter. The anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of ginger promote a cleaner, healthier mouth. It inhibits the growth of oral bacteria linked to gum diseases, like periodontitis and gingivitis [11]. There are different varieties of fungal infections like a yeast infection, jock itch and athlete’s foot. Ginger can kill the pathogenic fungi by its anti-fungal properties. In a study in Iran, the ginger extract was effective against 2 types of yeast infections that commonly cause a fungal infection in the mouth [12]
  • Maintains cardiovascular health: There are good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is beneficial for the body while the bad cholesterol is dangerous. High level of bad cholesterol or LDL lipoproteins can build up in the blood, causing blockages and increasing your risk of heart disease. The food we eat has a strong influence on the LDL level. Ginger is very effective in alleviating cholesterol and triglycerides level. A study conducted at Babol University of Medical Sciences found that ginger was able to reduce bad LDL cholesterol and increase beneficial HDL cholesterol compared to a placebo [13].
  • Promotes brain function: Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease have been linked to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. These oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can speed up the aging process. With the abundance of antioxidants, bioactive compounds and its anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can inhibit certain responses in the brain thus, promoting the health of the brain. Several animal studies have found that ginger extract could protect against the brain aging and cognitive decline [14].
  • Aids proper digestion: Problems like dyspepsia is a common condition of impaired digestion characterized by symptoms like recurrent pain, heartburn, fullness, and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach. Ginger can be helpful in treating this. It is believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion. Interestingly, one study even found that taking ginger capsules with a meal doubled the speed of stomach emptying [15]
  • Anti-cancer properties: Surprisingly, ginger also has anti-cancer properties. The powerful component 6-gingerol is very helpful in treating certain kinds of cancer. Cancer is considered one of the dangerous diseases that is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. In a study of 30 individuals, 2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly alleviated pro-inflammatory signalling molecules in the colon [16]. Cancer cells develop the ability to grow new blood vessels called angiogenesis. Ginger inhibits angiogenesis in skin cancer [17]
  • Market insight:

    The global market for ginger is in great demand. Thanks to all the companies who incorporate this ingredient in their products. As an herbal supplement, dietary food, as an ingredient in the pharmaceutical product, ginger extract, powder and capsules; ginger is available and in different dosage forms.

    In the year 2014 the sales of ginger were about $2,131,260, later in the year 2015, the sales increased to $2,310,559. In the year 2016, the sales were totaled to $2,454,767. Thus, the ginger market has been increasing day by day.

    If we consider the future perspective, Ginger business has promising future.

    Precautions:

    • Excessive intake ginger Irritate mouth
    • Can cause diarrhea
    • Acid reflux may occur
    • Pregnant women, those with problems with blood clotting should avoid taking ginger in excess.

 

Author: Sonali Pradhan

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