Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is the spicy and flavorful root of the flowering plant Zingiber officinale. Commonly used to season food, it also has a long history as a folk medicine treatment for multiple ailments.

The exact origins of the plant are unknown, but it's likely that ginger is native to Southeast Asia. People living in India and China have used ginger as a spice since ancient times. Traders brought ginger to the Mediterranean, then Europe, and eventually the Americas.

Today, ginger is used in a variety of dishes and drinks around the world. The entire edible portion of the thick root, called a rhizome, is available in the produce section of most grocery stores. Dried and ground ginger can also commonly be found in the herbs and spices aisle.

Ginger is often used in Asian cuisine, as well Caribbean and West African dishes. It goes well with sushi and plenty of Western dishes too, especially those with pumpkin or squash. The spice is also popular for being the main flavoring agent in ginger ale and ginger beer.

Health Benefits

Because ginger has been so widely used in traditional medicine, there are many scientific studies examining its medical value. Research suggests that eating ginger provides multiple health benefits.

Nausea Relief

Taking ginger on a daily basis can help relieve nausea, especially for pregnant women and people undergoing chemotherapy.

Blood Sugar Management

More research is needed, but ginger might help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels when taken regularly over a long period of time.

Decrease Menstrual Bleeding

Regularly consuming ginger was shown in one small study to reduce the amount of blood released during menstruation. As a result, ginger might help women who suffer from heavy periods find relief.

Pain Reduction

Eating ginger could help relieve some types of pain. In particular, ginger has been found to reduce muscle soreness after exercise.

Nutrition

Ginger contains very few vitamins and minerals. Since it is typically eaten in small quantities, people generally don't get many nutrients from it. 

Unique compounds within ginger are thought to be the primary source of its health benefits. These include gingerol, shogaols, zingiberene, and zingerone.

Continued

Nutrients per Serving

1 teaspoon of dried ginger contains: 

Dried ginger also contains a small amount of iron.

A quarter-cup of sliced, fresh ginger contains:

  • Calories: 19
  • Protein: Less than 1 gram
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 4 grams
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Fresh ginger also contains a small amount of iron, in addition to vitamin C.

Things to Watch Out For

Experts believe that ginger is safe to use in moderation, but it could come with some side effects. For example, eating ginger could increase a person's risk of bleeding by reducing blood clotting. This effect likely doesn't impact most people, but could be an issue for those who have blood platelet disorders or are at a greater risk of bleeding due to medication or other reasons.

How to Use Ginger

Ginger has a distinct flavor and adds a bit of a spicy kick to food. Fresh ginger can be grated into dishes or sliced and pickled. Dried, ground ginger adds flavor to both savory and sweet recipes.

Here are some foods that taste great with ginger added to them:

  • Cooked vegetables, such as carrots or asparagus
  • Indian curry dishes with coconut milk
  • Breads and muffins
  • Chinese stir fry
  • Sushi
  • Grilled chicken
  • Chicken soup
  • Apple cake 
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on September 09, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Britannica: "Ginger."

Britannica: "Ginger Ale."

Food, Science, & Nutrition: "Ginger in Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials."

Medicine: "Dietary Ginger as a Traditional Therapy for Blood Sugar Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus."

Phytotherapy Research: "Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on heavy menstrual bleeding: a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial."

Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran: "Acute Effects of Ginger Extract on Biochemical and Functional Symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness."

Nutrients: "Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials."

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

PLoS One: "The Effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) on Platelet Aggregation: A Systematic Literature Review.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.