Gingerbread and gingersnaps. Ginger ale and ginger tea. These are all typical foods and drinks that many of us are familiar with in the U.S. that incorporate ginger- but how much do you actually know about ginger and its natural form?
Ginger is a flowering herbaceous perennial with thin leaves and yellow flowers. It is originally from the South Asian tropics. Today, China and India produce most of the world’s ginger. The root is the part that humans typically consume and what we usually think of as “ginger”. Ginger is consumed extensively in many parts of the world such as in China, India, Korea, Japan, and many parts of Eastern Asia. It is eaten fresh, in powdered form, or pickled. It has long been used as a traditional herbal remedy or medicine. Ginger has a distinctly strong taste to it that can be described as lemony or citrus-y as well as being spicy.
Ginger has numerous nutritional benefits. Some of these benefits are that ginger root contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These compounds have been shown to inhibit inflammatory cytokines, which regulate the immune system’s response to inflammation. Due to these compounds ginger has been linked with relief from arthritis and muscle soreness. Ginger also has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, aid in the treatment of upset stomachs and irritable bowel syndrome, and has been used topically as a pain killer for burns or anti-itch properties for insect bites.
Ginger has a number of nutritional benefits. In 100 grams of raw ginger root there is an 8% daily value (DV) of fiber, 8% DV of Vitamin C, 8% DV of vitamin B6 (for proper nervous system function and metabolic processes), 11% DV of magnesium (for protein synthesis and blood pressure regulation), 11% DV of manganese (for processing of cholesterol, carbs, and proteins), 12% DV of potassium (for nerve function and muscle contraction), and 11% DV of copper (for red blood cell production and collagen formation).
Ginger has been represented in the U.S. through gingerbread houses and sugary drinks but there are so many healthier and tastier ways to eat ginger that don’t involve unhealthy sweets or soft drinks that are overloaded with sugars. The best way to eat ginger is to consume it fresh and whole. This is when the taste will be the strongest and the root will contain the most nutrients. Some ways to eat ginger are to add it to drinks, use it in a soup or stir-fry, or include it in a sauce. Below is a recipe that utilizes ginger.
Carrot Ginger Soup
This recipe was taken from simplyrecipes.com and the recipe belongs to Elise Bauer
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds carrots (6-7 large carrots), peeled and sliced thin
2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
3 large strips of zest from an orange
Chopped chives, parsley, dill or fennel for garnish
Saute onions and carrots with oil until onions soften
Add stock, water, ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are soft.
Take out orange zest strips
Puree soup in blender
Put some ginger in your next meal or drink and spice it up!