7 Healthy Reasons to Cook With Ginger
Ginger is not only a delicious addition to many dishes, it’s loaded with health benefits.
Most people only think of ginger as the pickled stuff served with sushi or the root you add to tea when you’re sick, but there’s a laundry list of reasons why ginger should be a staple in your daily diet.
There’s a reason people reach for ginger tea when they’re feeling ill, it has strong anti-nausea properties. “In a randomized clinical trial, participants that were given ginger found it to be equally as effective as anti-nausea medication,” says Maya Feller, a registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition for chronic disease prevention. It can also help with pregnancy-related morning sickness and motion sickness.
Ginger can help relieve gas and other digestive issues. “It has been shown to increase gastric emptying, meaning that food leaves the stomach more rapidly to decrease the possibility of indigestion occurring,” Feller says.
Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to decrease muscle pain as well as decrease fasting plasma glucose, meaning it may have a role in alleviating complications from type 2 diabetes, Feller says. “Ginger can also be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” cholesterol) and reducing oxidation, thereby boosting immunity.”
Pregnant women often turn to ginger for morning sickness. “In pregnant populations, studies have used between 650 milligrams to 1 gram daily for vomiting and nausea,” Feller says. But it’s important to check with a doctor before consuming large amounts because the dosage is different for pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is some evidence that high amounts are linked with miscarriage.
While ginger can be great for digestion, Feller notes that if consumed in excess, it can have the opposite effect, causing heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, and/or gas. “Further, if you’re taking any medications that may interact with ginger, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider,” says Feller. In particular, people on blood thinners will want to consult with their physician as ginger is considered to be a potent natural blood thinner. For healthy adults, up to 4 grams of ginger per day would be the tolerable upper limit, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Do you love loading your avocado roll with heaps of ginger but cringe at the thought of ginger tea? It turns out that every kind of ginger has health benefits, but pickled ginger has the added benefit of being probiotic-rich. Unlike ginger powder and ginger root, however, store-bought pickled ginger is susceptible to a long list of unnecessary added sugars and sodium. “While salt is a necessary ingredient for pickled ginger, be mindful of the amount, as well as artificial preservatives, artificial colors, and added sugars,” says Feller. Moreover, while crystalized (or candied) ginger is great to suck on for people who have an upset stomach, watch out for the added sugar.
If it’s not expensive, go for organic, says Feller, but ginger is not on the organic priority list. Just make sure to wash it well and peel it.
There are so many ways to enjoy ginger beyond steeping it in your tea. Because ginger comes in so many forms, from powdered to pickled, you can easily use it in anything from soups, meats, and fish dishes to grilled veggies and even salads for a quick flavor punch.
You can go the sweet route with some Fresh Ginger Cookies or Ginger Chocolate Chip Bars. If you’re pregnant, you might want to consider some homemade Ginger Ale to help with those nausea symptoms. Or opt for healthy comfort food like Ginger Chicken Soup With Vegetables.
Reed's Ginger Beer is a favorite of Feller's, who likes to use the ‘Strongest’ version when cooking and in marinades. Here, she shares her go-to recipe for stir-fry.
Tofu Ginger Beer Stir-fry
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 scallion with the greens, thinly sliced
- 1 block of extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 head of baby bok choy, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
- 1 can of Reed’s Strongest
In a large cast iron pan over medium heat, add avocado oil, garlic, and scallions. Sauté 2 to 5 minutes until garlic is translucent. Add tofu and pan fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Add bok choy, jalapeno, and Reed’s. Sauté 5 to 7 minutes uncovered. Serve and enjoy.