All About the Ginger Plant: Benefits, Uses & More
Curious about ginger? Learn how the ginger plant may benefit health for the better and just how to use it!
What is ginger good for? Is ginger good for you? The ginger plant is seasonal to fall, but the health benefits of ginger can last year-round.
Read on to learn more about ginger, including the best ginger recipes and if ginger supplements are worth it.
Ginger Health Benefits
Ginger is a spice that comes from the ginger plant. It comes from the ginger root, specifically, and has been studied for its healing properties. Many cultures have used it for centuries as alternative medicine.
Below details some unique benefits of including ginger in a healthy diet.
1. Low in Fat
Herbs and spices, like ginger, are crucial in reducing fat intake. Breading, batters, butters, gravies, and sauces may taste great but can quickly pack on the pounds. Instead, homemade ginger-spiced toppings taste great and can help cut unnecessary or "unhealthy" (saturated) fats from favorite dishes.
2. Low in Sodium
When people crave something salty, sometimes savory food serves just as well! Ginger is a great spice because it can be used in sweet foods (such as gingersnaps) and savory items, too.
Ginger is extra effective in replacing the taste of salt because it has a peppery kick to it that complements many other ingredients.
3. Can Help Reduce Sugar Intake
Ginger has a sweet, peppery taste. It adds a playful flavor to many dishes and can be used to add dimension. Cut calories and replace added salt and sugar with this multitasking spice.
4. May Contain Healing Properties
Used classically for treating everything from headaches to an upset stomach, more recent research has unveiled a possible reason for ginger's healing properties.
The spice contains a compound called gingerol. This compound has a structure similar to the medicine aspirin, which may be why ginger is considered anti-inflammatory by many integrative physicians and dietitians.
5. May Alleviate Nausea & Vomiting
Ginger shows to be a natural remedy that may be successful in alleviating and reducing nausea, vomiting, and menstrual cramps. Many women report its helpfulness during pregnancy, however, studies on morning sickness and motion sickness, and ginger are still limited.
Ongoing studies are also looking into the efficacy of ginger during cancer chemotherapy.
Ginger complements a wide variety of dishes, which makes it easy to add to a well-balanced diet. For example, it pairs well with the following foods:
• Flaky fish
• Winter squash
• Fall and winter desserts (i.e. homemade pumpkin pie spice, ginger snaps cookies)
Spice Up A Sauté, Soup, or Stir-Fry
Easily add ginger to a sauté or stir-fry. Just toss garlic, ginger, and olive oil in a pan. Then, add vegetables, nuts, seeds, and any other desired ingredients.
Grated or minced ginger works well for stir-fry dishes. Soups benefit especially from fresh ginger. Puréed or grated, fresh ginger adds a bit of zest to soups that feature seasonal ingredients.
Make A Tea, Tonic, or Ale
Do not limit ginger to dinner dishes. It adds a beautiful flavor to beverages as well!
Ginger tastes great in homemade ale. Simply boil it down to a syrup, mix in seltzer water or diet club soda, and a squirt of lime juice. Serve each 8 oz glass with 1/8 cup ginger syrup, 1/2 cup of cold seltzer water, ice, and ginger syrup or sugar substitute as desired for preferred taste.
For ginger tea, pour boiling water over a hunk of fresh ginger. Then, add honey and a bit of lemon to make the perfect cozy morning beverage!
Pickled ginger goes by the name "gari". It is eaten with dishes like sushi, but can also be added to other meals. Spice up the following everyday options with pickled ginger:
Add to Asian Cuisine
A star spice in many Asian dishes, ginger is native to many parts of Asia, including China, Japan, and India where it has been used for centuries as both ingredient and medicine.
Ginger is often used to flavor Japanese or Chinese food due to its sweet peppery flavor. Try throwing some grated ginger into an Asain-inspired dish for a fantastic blend of flavors.
Make Flaky Fish Dishes
Seafood can be bland when not seasoned properly. Ginger tastes great with fish dishes, especially when added to homemade breading. Just mix grated ginger with whole wheat bread crumbs, garlic, and some cilantro to create a delicious, lower-calorie breading for flaky fish (i.e. tilapia, white fish).
Use as a Garnish or Glaze
As if the above uses were not enough, ginger can also be utilized as a garnish or in a glaze. It pairs well with the following citrus fruits:
Delicious Ginger Recipes
Since it fits in with so many ingredients, there are a variety of recipes to choose from that use ginger. However, these are the best for health-centric eaters!
Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry
As mentioned above, stir fry is a great dish that hits the spot. Beef and broccoli bring a hearty taste while minced ginger can add a peppery, sweet sensation to the dish. Beef and broccoli stir fry is perfect for busy weeknights where everybody needs their tummy filled.
Another Asian-inspired dish, chana masala utilizing ginger gets an authentic touch of flavor. Other herbs and spices pair nicely with it, such as cumin, garlic, cilantro, and coriander. Chickpeas help to keep it high in protein, which can create a feeling of fullness after the meal is over.
Sesame Roasted Carrots
Eating (and enjoying) vegetables is challenging when they are bland. Never have that problem again with sesame roasted carrots! Minced ginger makes this dish, and to top it off, it only includes six total ingredients.
Honey Drizzled Broiled Grapefruit
Juicy and flavorful, broiled grapefruit with honey and ginger is a unique dish. It is warm and delicious while tasting sweet enough to be a dessert. Thanks to the honey, the top caramelizes and the ginger helps create a tasty crust.
There is nothing like a good green curry with vegetables. Not only is it healthy, but it feels like an exotic dish full of globe-trotting flavors. Paired with lemongrass and coconut sugar, this Asain-inspired dish is full of healthy fats and lower glycemic sugars.
Who knew ginger was a surf and turf spice? It pairs well with land-based eats but also tastes great with items that originated at sea. Japanese seaweed salad utilizes ginger juice and can be easily adjusted for delicious additions or twists on the traditional flavors.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake (& Beyond!)
A classic pumpkin pie spice features five distinct spices, allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and (of course) ginger. In the fall, it is extra important to use diet and lifestyle to boost immunity, making a pumpkin pie protein shake a natural pick. Fuel the day with delicious flavors from ginger and other spices, along with protein to keep the belly feeling full.
Still cannot get enough of pumpkin spice? Try in a healthy pumpkin spice latte and energy bites!
A Final Word On Ginger
Ginger is a superstar ingredient all its own. However, it also pairs well with other spices to replace high levels of salt, fat, or sugar hidden in many dishes.
Try it today in salads, soups, stir fry, and much more!
Ginger. Produce for Better Health Foundation. https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/ginger-root/.
Ginger. USDA SNAP-Ed Connection. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/ginger.
Henneman A. Add a Little Spice (& Herbs) to Your Life! University of Nebraska Lincoln. https://food.unl.edu/documents/Spice&HerbsHandout08.pdf.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Published December 2020. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger.
Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Ginger. Produce for Better Health Foundation. Published September 2011. https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-ginger/.