Health Benefits of Ginger and Ginger Water

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on August 16, 2023
5 min read

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 many ailments.

We don't know the origins of the plant, but it's most likely native to Southeast Asia. People in India and China have used ginger as a spice since ancient times. Traders took ginger to the Mediterranean, then Europe, and eventually the Americas.

Today, ginger is used in a variety of dishes and drinks around the world. You can eat the entire root, which is known as a rhizome. Ginger is easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store. You also can buy dried and ground ginger in the spices aisle.

Pickled ginger is often served with sushi. The spice goes well with dishes that include pumpkin or squash. It's also the main flavoring ingredient in ginger ale and ginger beer.

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in ginger offer significant health benefits. For example, ginger contains choline, which is an important building block of neurotransmitters that help your brain and nerves fire. Your body needs choline to help support your metabolism, cardiovascular health, mood, and muscle functions.

Other health benefits of ginger may include:

Nausea relief

Ginger has been used as a remedy for nausea and indigestion for centuries, and studies have shown this to be one folk remedy that actually works. Research suggests that consuming between 1 and 2 grams of ginger could help reduce symptoms of nausea It can help with morning sickness, motion sickness, or side effects from chemotherapy.

Blood sugar management

We need more research, but there's some evidence that ginger might help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels when they take it regularly for a long time.

Help with heavy periods

A small study of high school girls with heavy periods found that those who were given ginger had much less blood loss during their cycles than girls who got placebos (pills with no active ingredients).

Pain relief

Ginger could help relieve some types of pain, including muscle soreness after exercise, and serious menstrual cramps.

Inflammation reduction

There are many causes of inflammation, including mild allergic reactions and overexertion. Early studies on ginger have shown that it may help reduce inflammation from both of these causes. One study showed that ginger extracts may help reduce allergy symptoms, though we need more research to confirm these findings. Another small trial suggested that consuming ginger after heavy exercise might help reduce knee muscle pain.

Lower cholesterol 

High levels of cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Some studies suggest that adding ginger to your diet can help reduce not only LDL cholesterol but also total cholesterol and triglycerides. This could lower your risk of heart problems and other cholesterol-related health issues.

Ginger water is simply water to which ginger has been added. Many people make tea from fresh ginger, add slices of fresh ginger to water, or sprinkle powdered ginger in water or other beverages to add spice and nutrients to their drinks. Ginger water is often included in herbal remedies for conditions like bloating and upset stomachs.

Ginger water health benefits

For people who don't like to eat a lot of ginger, ginger water can be an easy way to get the health benefits of this spice. Especially if you have nausea, it may be more appealing to drink ginger than to eat it.

How to make ginger water

Ginger water is simple to make. It can contain nothing more than water and ginger root, though many recipes also include a sweetener like honey and lemon or lime juice to balance the flavor.

The easiest way to make it is to just add ground ginger or a few slices of fresh ginger root to water. But these aren’t the most efficient ways to get ginger to release its natural compounds. Steeping ginger in hot water also helps make it more flavorful. You can serve it chilled if you prefer a cold drink.

Here's how to make a large batch of ginger water:

Add 2 tablespoons of peeled and thinly sliced ginger root and 4 cups of water to a medium-sized pot. Bring the water to a boil for at least 10 minutes. (If you prefer a stronger tea, add more ginger slices and boil the water for longer.) Then add honey, lime, or lemon to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Since you typically eat ginger in small quantities, you generally don't get too many nutrients from it. Instead, its compounds, such as gingerol, shogaols, zingiberene, and zingerone, are thought to be the primary sources of its health benefits.

Ginger also contains some:

  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Choline
  • Selenium

Nutrients per serving

1 teaspoon of dried ginger contains:
Calories: 6
Protein: 0 grams
Fat: Less than 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 1 gram
Fiber: Less than 1 gram
Sugar: 0 grams

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

Ginger water nutrition

Ginger water contains the same compounds and nutrients as ginger in other forms. The levels may vary depending on how strong you make it. Ginger water and ginger tea offer healthier, lower-sugar alternatives to ginger ale, ginger beer, and other ginger drinks you can buy.

Nutrients per serving 

A 1-cup serving of ginger water contains:

  • Calories: 6
  • Protein: Less than 1 gram
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: Less than 1 gram

Things to watch out for

Some people find that ginger can cause stomach aches, gas, and heartburn, especially if they consume it in excess. If you have gallstones, talk to your doctor before eating ginger, taking ginger supplements, or drinking ginger water.