When you think ginger, you probably think about a nice cup of tea or your go-to Thai takeout dish. But the benefits of ginger go way beyond flavor. In fact, people have been using it for centuries to boost their health.
“The active compounds of ginger, the gingerols and shogaols, are responsible for most of [ginger’s] medicinal properties,” says Roseanne Schnell, C.D.N., nutritionist at The Vitamin Shoppe. “These are found in the root or rhizome of the plant, so look for ginger root or root extract.”
Ginger root can be bought fresh, dried, pickled, or candied, explains Schnell. You can also sip on ginger teas and juices, or supplement with ginger capsules, tinctures, chews, and essential oils.
So what exactly can ginger do for you and your body? Here are five reasons why you should consider adding ginger to your wellness routine.
1. Supports Digestive Health
Got tummy troubles? Ginger’s number one benefit is supporting your digestion and relieving feelings of nausea.
“Ginger helps to stimulate digestion by stimulating saliva and enzymes that help break down food and move it through the digestive tract,” explains Schnell. “This helps with stomach emptying, which can be a cause of occasional indigestion, gas, and bloating.”
And because of ginger’s ability to temper occasional nausea, pregnant women tend to turn to the root.
Read More: Should You Be Drinking Ginger Water?
“Some research demonstrates that ginger reduces the severity of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women with morning sickness,” says Tori Schmitt, M.S., R.D.N., L.D. of YES! Nutrition, LLC.
Schmitt suggests pregnant women use ginger fresh in foods, or in supplemental amounts of less than 1,500 milligrams per day, as needed. “High doses of ginger concentrated in powders or herbal tinctures can increase bleeding risk and can interact with some medications,” she warns.
2. Promotes Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Your heart may get an extra health boost from ginger. Research published in the Saudi Medical Journal found that ginger had a significant impact on supporting normal, healthy lipids. Compared to before the study, the 45 patients in the treatment group saw reduced triglyceride and cholesterol.
“Ginger is rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial for heart health, including supporting healthy LDL cholesterol,” says Schnell.
3. Has Immune Properties
As a paper published in the Curr Cardiol Review explains, the active ingredient in ginger, gingerol, is thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow, and more.
Another study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine found that compounds gingerols, shogaols, and paradols may have immune-supporting and antioxidant properties, though more research is necessary.
Looking to give the benefits of ginger a go for immunity? “Fresh ginger root is preferred over ground in this instance, since it has higher levels of the active compound gingerol,” says Schnell.
4. Soothes Menstrual Pains
When it comes to menstrual cramps, many women are willing to try anything for a little relief, and ginger is one healthy solution. One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was as effective as some common over-the-counter menstrual pain relievers in women who experience painful periods.
“Zinzgibain, an enzyme found in ginger, inhibits prostaglandins, which can trigger contractions of the uterus,” says Schnell. “Therefore, ginger can help soothe cramps. It also has a warming effect in the body, which may be soothing to those experiencing cramps.”
5. Supports Cognitive Health
No, ginger can’t make you smarter. But, the spicy root may be able to boost your brain power. Findings published in Evid Based Complement Alternat Medicine suggest ginger extract has the potential to enhance both attention and cognitive processing abilities in healthy, middle-aged women.
“Oxidative stress can accelerate age-related cognitive declines,” says Schnell. The gingerol and shogaols in ginger, meanwhile, may help support a healthy system and boost brain health.
How To Reap The Benefits Of Ginger
Though Schnell loves to add fresh or dried ginger to marinades, soups, stews, salad dressings, and veggie stir-frys, supplementation is sometimes the best way to reap the health benefits. “Since it is difficult to determine exact amounts when consumed in the spice, food, or beverage form, many people prefer to take the supplement forms of ginger,” says Schnell. She suggests starting low and increasing as needed to get the benefits you’re looking for. A good range is 250 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams one-to-three times per day.
Read More: 5 Ways To Reap The Soothing Power Of Ginger
“I like to recommend plnt Brand Ginger capsules, Natures Answer Ginger tinctures, and Prince of Peace 100 Percent Natural Ginger Chews to keep on hand when needed,” suggests Schnell. “I also like to add Dynamic Health Organic Ginger Juice to seltzer for a healthy ginger ale.”
Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook community, Eating Healthy, today!