Apr 13

The health benefits of ginger

One of the mandatory ingredients to any Indian kitchen, is ginger. Ginger has found its way in most cuisines around the world, but is predominantly a part of Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and many South Asian cuisines. It is an important spice when it comes to Indian cuisine, and very few preparations are made without the use of ginger.

Ginger grows best in warm climate, so it is mostly cultivated in China, India, Australia, and Jamaica. China and India produce most of the world’s ginger, with half being produced on India’s Malabar Coast.

When buying ginger, pick smooth, shiny pieces. Avoid the sprouted ones as they are probably old. When using fresh ginger, be sure to wash the piece thoroughly with a brush to remove dirt and peel the skin before consuming. Do not consume the skin. Store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or freeze it if you want to keep it for longer durations. When freezing, it helps to separate portions so that only a limited amount of ginger needs to be thawed and the rest can continue to remain frozen for use when required. You can also make ginger paste for use in the kitchen since this lasts longer.

Ginger is consumed as a delicacy, as a spice or for its medicinal properties. Ginger is used in many preparations where it is the main ingredient such as ginger ale, ginger bread, ginger tea, ginger biscuits among many others. It can also be used as a spice to provide a subtle flavor to another main ingredient like in most Indian dishes, where it is often used along with garlic. Essentially, it provides a great flavor and can be used in dipping sauces, dressings, rubs and teas. Apart from these uses, it is also served pickled, such as with Japanese Sushi, to enhance and add to the flavor of another dish. Another reason it Is served with sushi is because it helps digest the food faster.

Medicinal properties: Ginger has been among the oldest medicines used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. It finds its place in Ayurveda and is referred to as a “universal great medicine”. Consuming ginger may help cure muscle soreness, inflammation, and relieve osteoarthritis pain. It is anti-inflammatory and an anti oxidant. Ginger is also known to be a cure or help in minimizing nausea, blood pressure, asthma, high cholesterol and migraine, among other uses.

Since it is an anti inflammatory, the use of ginger in your bath may help keep the skin clear. Some studies indicate it is also good for your sex life and increases testosterone levels.

Usually considered safe if consumed in reasonable quantities, ginger has very few negative side effects. Allergies to ginger may cause a rash, and it may have some minor side effects such as nausea, heartburn, belching and bloating. It is not recommended to exceed consumption of ginger beyond 4 grams a day.

Ginger is such a wonderful thing and works wonders, not only for the taste buds but also for the digestive system, among other parts of the body. I often wonder how the very first person, who discovered the uses of ginger, thought about trying the different combinations that we popularly use ginger with today. Considering its strong, zingy flavor, I would assume it took a lot of experimentation before someone came up with the recipes we use today. What a marvelous journey it must have been! Anyhow, I am glad someone did the spade work so that I get to enjoy its benefits today. On that note, I am off to get me some ginger tea. :)

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