Ginger is yummy stuff, whether it’s in its sliced and pickled form — gari — to help mask the raw fish from your breath after eating sushi, or grated in a rice dish for a dash of flavorful zing. It also offers a wealth of health benefits.
Medical News Today defines ginger as an herb “that is used as a spice and also for its therapeutic qualities. The underground stem (rhizome) can be used fresh, powdered, dried, or as an oil or juice. Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae family, as are cardamom, turmeric and galangal.”
Food Matters lists 10 issues that ginger is said to alleviate, among them stomach cramps, gas, throat and nose congestion, sinus issues, joint pain and even bedroom woes (as in, it allegedly adds some rawr to a sleepy libido).
Obviously, this sounds like great news, especially if you’re going through a dry spell or a massive case of the windy pops (or both; hey, we aren’t judging you).
Well, we aren’t. Is ginger good for you? Yes. Does it effectively alleviate some of the things on Food Matter’s list? Yes, very likely it does. I’ve personally used ginger in soup to help alleviate nasal congestion and munched on it to ease stomachaches, and it’s made me feel better.
As for claims that it alleviates what Food Matters refers to as “the bedroom blues,” it kind of makes sense. Ginger does have anti-inflammatory properties and, since it is credited with boosting blood circulation, well, you know biology, so we won’t spell it out. We understand why some sites say that consuming ginger will let a man rise to the (sexy) occasion.
That doesn’t mean you should start consuming massive quantities of the stuff every single day. If you’re at the receiving end of chain emails lauding its benefits and instructing you to consume it in lieu of medication, you have to exercise caution and common sense.
An email attributed to a Dr. Al Sears lists some of ginger’s benefits and includes a recipe to brew tea with it — which, fair enough, so far, so good — but the email also states, at least twice, that there are no side effects.
And that’s where we run into some problems, because there is a tendency in some people to assume that because a little bit of ginger (or anything) is good for you, then a lot of it must be the cure-all we all seek. Remember Rachel Zimmerman and how she overdid it with kale? This is why we need to be wary about buzzwords such as miracle food and superfood.
WebMD cautions that there are indeed side effects to consider. Taking ginger may increase your risk of bleeding, which is a huge problem for people with bleeding disorders or anemia.
It can also lower your blood sugar, which may sound good at first, especially if you’re diabetic; however, it is of the upmost importance for you to talk to your doctor to see if your prescribed diabetes medications may need to be adjusted.
And high doses of ginger might worsen some heart conditions, WebMD cautions. As for pregnant women, they are urged to avoid ginger altogether (again, talk to your doctor).
The moral of the story is that you need to be careful, regardless of whether you are pregnant, have diabetes, have a heart condition or are even the picture of absolute health. Remember that drinking too much water can have serious, potentially fatal, results.
So don’t overdo it. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy ginger for what it is — a delightful way to add flavor to your food. And there’s no reason that, from time to time, you can make some ginger tea or add some to soup to help a stuffy nose or achy stomach.
You know your own body. Pay attention to it, don’t go to extremes and check out these 13 recipes so you can add some ginger to your diet (safely).
Mindfully Frugal Mom adds grated ginger to a delicious marinade for grilled salmon. Who says healthy can’t be delicious?