The plant’s flavor is anything but subtle. Many of us love to use this spice to add a nice zest to our home-cooked meals. But ginger’s incredible abilities to soothe everything from digestive problems to inflammation is the reason it deserves plenty of love on your spice rack.
The health benefits of ginger are too numerous to ignore. Modern-day research is starting to catch up to ancient wisdom passed on through the ages, with some exciting results.
Here are some of the most incredible ways the health benefits of ginger can change your daily life:
1. It will make your skin glow
Ginger contains substances known as gingerols that quash inflammation and turn off pain-causing compounds in the body. The anti-inflammatory benefits can also help soothe red, irritated skin. A promising study also found that eating a combination of curcumin and ginger helped skin improve its appearance and function and helped it heal faster.
2. Lower Cholesterol Levels
Poor cholesterol markers – high levels of LDL, low levels of HDL, and high triglycerides – put you at a greater risk of serious heart problems.
Ginger can help. A study published in the Saudi Medical Journal found that, in a clinical trial performed in heart clinics, people who took three grams of ginger capsules daily over a 45-day period significantly reduced their triglycerides, LDL, and other dangerous cholesterol markers.
A 2013 rat study found that when rats were given ginger extract for 30 days, their LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol levels decreased. Their HDL levels also increased, resulting in much improved cholesterol markers overall. This backs up an earlier Israeli study that found similar cholesterol-lowering effects and even less development of atherosclerotic lesions.
3. Prevents Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Ginger isn’t just a great spice to turn to when you’re nauseous and sick. It can keep you from getting sick in the first place! Its gingerol compounds lower your risk of multiple infections.
Just how good is ginger at strengthening your immune system?
A group of Nigerian researchers found that ginger was even more effective at killing Staphylococcus aureus (staph infections) and Streptococcus pyogenes than conventional antibiotics! This has important implications if you’re recovering in a hospital after an illness or surgical procedure, where bacterial infections are extremely common among the immune-compromised.
4. Soothes Muscle Pain
If you exercise, you’re all too familiar with the soreness that comes later. It can be painful, and tough, to motivate yourself to stick with your routine if you’re already hurting.
Ginger helps. It all comes down to gingerol’s anti-inflammatory effects. Gingerol doesn’t just lessen the condition that results in pain (inflammation). It also works on the pain receptors themselves. Like when you eat peppers, the spicy taste of ginger burns for a second, but it ultimately relieves pain and creates other beneficial effects.
One study found that daily ginger supplementation for 11 days led to around a 25 percent reduction in muscle pain after exercises.
The results are promising, no doubt! But the key word here is daily. While ginger definitely eases muscle pain, it doesn’t happen right away. It’s best to have some every day because you won’t notice the pain relief until 24 to 48 hours later.
5. Promotes a Healthy Mind
Inflammation and oxidative stress accelerate aging. That’s why many scientists believe it is largely responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive issues.
Ginger fights inflammation and acts as an antioxidant, so it can help us maintain healthy cognitive function as we age.
One study examined ginger’s effect on middle-aged women and found that daily ginger supplements resulted improved working memory and reaction time.
Another study found that, in both normal rats and in rats with chemically-induced memory deficits, ginger extract improved performance on a novel object recognition test. There were improvements in learning and memory, as well as increased activity in the hippocampus – a portion of brain heavily involved in memory.