Ginger: virtues and benefits of ginger

Ginger is a rhizome belonging to the same family as turmeric. Moreover, just like the latter, it is now considered a real “superfood” in Europe. For good reason, it benefits from an exceptional content of nutrients and antioxidants. In the kitchen, he brings the little touch of originality that changes everything. 

Characteristics of ginger

Strong antioxidant power; Anti-inflammatory virtues; Relieves digestive disorders; Promotes cardiovascular health; Very low calorie.

Nutritional and caloric values ​​of ginger

Ground ginger is an excellent source of manganese for women and a good source for men, their needs for this mineral being different. 

Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.

Also, raw ginger is a source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used in the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also contribute to the body’s defense against free radicals.

What is a “portion” of ginger worth?

weight/volumeRaw ginger (root), 100 gGround dried ginger, 100 g 
Proteins1,1 g8,98 g
Carbohydrates3,4 g58,3 g
Lipids1,1 g4,24 g
Dietary fiber2,7 g14,1 g

The benefits of ginger

For a very long time, ginger has been consumed all over the world to relieve various ailments such as rheumatism, nausea, colds, and headaches. 

Ginger can be used in different forms, such as capsules, powder, herbal teas, fresh, or in syrup. This sheet will mainly focus on the health effects of consuming fresh or dried ginger.

Antioxidant power

Antioxidants are compounds that protect body cells from damage caused by free radicals. The latter are very reactive molecules that would be involved in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and other diseases related to aging. 

About forty antioxidant compounds have been discovered in ginger. Some of them would be resistant to heat and could even be released during cooking, which could explain the increase in antioxidant activity of cooked ginger. 

Ground ginger ranks third in antioxidant content among more than 1,000 foods analyzed. Note, however, that this comparison was made on the basis of 100 g of food and not per usual portion (which corresponds to approximately 2 g in the case of ginger). 

Fresh ginger also has strong antioxidant activity compared to other vegetables and spices consumed in Asia. Following thirty analyses carried out, ginger, along with turmeric, mint, coriander, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, were ranked among the fourteen fresh vegetables with the strongest antioxidants.

The main active compounds responsible for the pungent taste of fresh ginger are (6)-gingerol and (10)-gingerol. Their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are well known and their anti-cancer potential has been demonstrated in vitro. 

A recent study demonstrated a promising effect of ginger as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of prostate cancer. During the dehydration of ginger, the gingerols are converted into compounds called shogaols. This group of compounds is therefore found in greater quantities in dried or powdered ginger than in fresh ginger. 

A study shows that shogaols could protect cells from a compound implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of different antioxidant compounds isolated from ginger have been observed in vitro as well as in animals. These are promising results that have yet to be demonstrated in humans.

Anti-inflammatory virtues

The anti-inflammatory properties of certain constituents of ginger have been recognized for a very long time and are well documented in vitro. 

Among the known compounds, let us mention mainly gingerols whose beneficial effects have also been observed in animals, but also shogaols and paradols which would exert their effects by different mechanisms of action. In humans, the consumption of ginger has shown promising results in reducing pain related to arthritis (only a few studies, were carried out using fresh ginger). 

On the other hand, the results of these studies are difficult to compare, given the different preparations and quantities of ginger used (from 0.5 g to 50 g of ginger per day). 

More studies are therefore needed before concluding the real effect of the consumption of fresh ginger on the prevention and treatment of pain related to chronic inflammatory disorders.

Nausea and vomiting

Several studies have evaluated the antiemetic effect (the ability to prevent or stop nausea and vomiting) attributed to ginger. 

First, two studies reveal that consuming 0.5g to 1.5g of powdered ginger (in capsule form) may be effective in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In addition, a recent meta-analysis shows that 1 g of powdered ginger (in the form of capsules) would be more effective than a placebo in preventing nausea and vomiting after surgery. 

For comparison, 1g to 2g of powdered ginger equals about 10g of fresh ginger. 

Finally, the consumption of ginger could prevent nausea and vomiting related to motion sickness, but the evidence is still insufficient to conclude on convincing effectiveness. 

On this subject, two studies did not see an antiemetic effect following the consumption of fresh ginger. Gingerols and shogaols contained in ginger would play a role in the antiemetic effect, by acting among other things on the reduction of stomach movements. 

To date, the majority of randomized studies have been performed with powdered ginger (capsules) and compared to a placebo. Thus, it is difficult to determine whether the consumption of fresh ginger, crystallized or in herbal tea, for example, could provide the same effects.


A review article, which identifies animal studies, shows that ginger (like other spices) may stimulate bile secretion and the activity of various digestive enzymes, resulting in faster digestion of food. 

The quantities of ginger used in these studies are high and even higher than what could be consumed by populations known to be large consumers of spices, such as India. 

Although the consumption of such quantities is realistic for these populations, it is more difficult in a North American and European context where spices (including ginger) have less of a place in traditional dishes. 

As the effect of consuming fresh ginger on the digestive process has not been the subject of well-controlled clinical studies in humans, more research may eventually lead to more specific conclusions on the subject.

Type 2 diabetes

A recent rigorous scientific study demonstrated a beneficial effect of the consumption of 3 g of ginger powder for 8 weeks in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Indeed, ginger extract would decrease the values ​​of fasting blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin in addition to improving insulin resistance.

Nutritionist’s word

By consuming ginger with garlic or onion (or even better, both) we would create a synergy between their different antioxidant compounds. This would allow them to surpass their individual antioxidant effects.

How to choose the right ginger?

Ginger is a rhizome native to India and belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, just like its cousin turmeric. When fresh, it appears as a light-colored, tuberous root surrounded by thin, dry, brown skin. 

In France, it is found on stalls between September and February and is appreciated both for its inimitable pungent taste and for its many health benefits. 

Ginger id card 

  • Family: Zingiberaceae;
  • Origin: India;
  • Season: September to February;
  • Color: light brown;
  • Flavor: spicy.

For optimal preservation 

  • In the refrigerator: keep it on a shelf and not in the vegetable drawer which is too humid, and risks encouraging the development of mold. It can easily be kept for 2 to 3 weeks. It can also be stored in a dry place, like onions and potatoes;
  • Put the rhizomes in a jar, cover them with sherry or brandy, close them, and refrigerate. They will last, so to speak, indefinitely;
  • In the freezer: just take out a piece of rhizome if necessary, and grate it while it is still frozen. Avoid letting it thaw because it then takes on a soft consistency and becomes difficult to grate;
  • In pieces: it can be dried in the oven at low temperature, the door slightly open, for 10 to 12 hours, after boiling it for ten minutes to prevent it from sprouting during drying. If it is peeled and cut into rings, it is not necessary to boil it. It will dry in a few days at room temperature;
  • In Asia, it is also preserved in sugar syrup. Maple syrup should be fine for this purpose.

How to prepare ginger

Ginger is very present in Indian, Asian, and Oriental cuisines. In France, it is becoming more and more popular and is now part of the daily diet. We love it for its health benefits but also for its subtly spicy flavor that brings a little taste of travel to our favorite recipes. 

Using Pickled Ginger in Cooking

Marinated, it is essential in Japanese cuisine. It is served with sushi, sashimi, oriental noodles, tempura, etc. Grated or chopped fresh, the rhizome of ginger is used in stir-fries and curries, soups, oriental stews, and fish dishes. Add the ginger at the end of cooking to benefit from its maximum flavor. 

Consider adding it to a vinaigrette made with oil, vinegar, honey, and soy sauce. You can also add it to the tea water or make an infusion to take at the end of the meal: heat ½ c. grated ginger and three or four cardamom seeds in a cup of half-milk and half-water mixture or in water. Pass. Take hot or iced.

What to do with candied ginger 

Candied or crystallized, it is used in the composition of cookies, cakes, or other desserts. Finely chopped, it is excellent in whipped cream.

Cooking with ground ginger

Dried and then ground, ginger is suitable for bread, pastries, confectionery, puddings, and desserts. With nutmeg, it seasons pumpkin soup wonderfully. It is part of the composition of allspice, which is used to season stews.

Do you know the young shoots of ginger? 

If you grow ginger, you can use the young shoots when they have reached 7 or 8 centimeters. Saute them the Chinese way, or marinate them, the Japanese way, in a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar or honey, and sesame oil.

Contraindications and allergies to ginger

Ginger is excellent for health, but its great richness in nutrients turns out to be a disadvantage in certain specific cases. Indeed, it may be inadvisable to consume ginger in excess as part of certain drug treatments with which it may interfere. Fortunately, these cases remain quite rare, and, most often, it is a simple precaution. 

Drugs interactions

Different properties attributed to ginger (such as anticoagulant and hypoglycemic effects) suggest that its consumption could interfere with certain drugs, plants, or supplements, increasing their effects. 

On this subject, several authors recommend that people taking blood medication (such as heparin, coumadin, or aspirin) or before surgery avoid consuming large amounts of ginger in order to reduce the risk of bleeding. excessive.

In addition, large doses of ginger could interfere with heart medications (cardiotonic effect) and diabetes medications (hypoglycemic action). These risks of interaction are however theoretical and have not necessarily been observed in patients.

History and anecdotes

The term “ginger” is derived from the Sanskrit shringavera, which means “shaped like the antler of a deer”. From there appeared the Greek ziggiberis and the Latin zingiber, then “gingibre” in French, and finally “ginger”, which appears for the first time in 1256 in a written work.

A little history

The Zingiber genus is thought to be home to southern India and China, where it has been used as a condiment, food, and medicine for over 5,000 years, but its ancestors have never been traced. wild.

One of the first oriental spices to make its way to Europe, ginger was brought there by Arab traders around a century BCE. Two centuries later, the Greek Dioscorides and the Roman Pliny the Elder mention it in their medical writings, emphasizing its carminative properties and its virtues as an antidote against poisons. 

He was known in France and Germany in the 9th century and in England in the 10th century. During the conquest, the Spaniards implanted it in the West Indies and Mexico so that, from the middle of the 16th century, Spain was able to import the precious spice from this part of the globe. 

It was also the first time that spice of oriental origin had been successfully cultivated in the New World.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, in several European countries, the famous gingerbread was developed, with many regional variations and which originally always included ginger. Why? 

Because this strongly aromatic spice made it possible to mask the flavor of the flour, which was almost always rancid. Nowadays, ginger is grown in all warm regions of the planet. 

Depending on the climatic conditions, the nature of the soil, and the cultivation methods, the composition, and quality of the rhizomes vary considerably from one country to another, so much so that we have come to establish a sort of vintage map. : Jamaican ginger, is renowned for its delicate aroma and is mainly used fresh, in cooking and to flavor various drinks. 

This is the one we are most likely to find in our grocery stores; the Australian, with a distinctly sweet and lemony flavor, which is reserved for confectionery; African ginger from Nigeria and Sierra Leone, more full-bodied, has a powerful camphor flavor which makes it a product of choice for the production of essential oil and oleoresin,

from which aromas used in cooking, perfumery, or in medicines from the Far East; Indian ginger, with a pleasant lemony flavor: it is mainly intended for export, so much so that most of the production of this country is dehydrated; Chinese ginger, produced in very large quantities, but whose rhizomes are generally excluded from our markets because they are treated with sulfur dioxide.

Organic gardening

A tropical plant that requires 9 or 10 months of growth without frost, ginger is not normally grown in our climates. However, unconditional amateurs will be able to produce it on a small scale. 

It wasn’t that long ago that you could start growing it using pieces of the rhizome bought at the grocery store, but since the Canadian government approved the irradiation of spices which, in the case of ginger, has precisely for the purpose of preventing it from germinating, one must obtain plants from specialized seed merchants, or even rhizomes from organic farming and, therefore, not irradiated.

Culture in a container, then in the ground. Order your seedlings in early fall. Transplant them immediately into 20 cm pots filled with compost composed of equal parts vermiculite, peat moss (or leaf compost), and compost (vegetable, sheep manure, shrimp, etc.). 

Water well and place the pots in front of an east- or west-facing window, or under a “Grolight”-type neon sign. For the rest of the winter, avoid overwatering, but never let the plants dry out.

At the beginning of June, transplant your plants, spacing them 20 to 25 cm apart, in light, loose, and rather sandy soil, enriched with compost or mature manure; ideally, in a raised bed or ridge, situations that allow good irrigation without presenting a risk of rot. It’s that ginger loves water, but hates having their feet wet for too long.

Mulch plants to conserve moisture and limit weed growth with grass clippings or leaf litter. Every month, and even every two weeks, apply a foliar fertilizer (seaweed and fish emulsion, animal or vegetable manure). 

If the stem turns yellow or frost threatens, harvest all the rhizomes. Save the healthiest ones for your next crop, which will start two or three months later after a dormant period. In the meantime, keep them cool and dark.

Culture in containers: the mode of culture is about the same as for plants in the ground except that they are raised in containers of 20 or 25 liters, filled with very rich soil. 

In the spring, when frost is no longer a threat, take the pots outside and place them in a semi-shaded place, protecting them – very important – from the wind. The application of foliar fertilizer and an adequate supply of water is essential here, as plants raised in containers are much more exposed to temperature extremes and deficiencies in essential nutrients.

At harvest time, leave part of the rhizome in the soil of the pots and store them in a cool, dry, and dark place for about two or three months, after which time the plants will again form stems and will give you another harvest eight or nine months later. 

Do not hesitate to take some of the rhizomes when they are still young – around 5 months. They are then tender and fine, less prickly than the mature rhizomes.

Ecology and environment

Like garlic and turmeric, and unlike most plants, ginger has lost the ability to reproduce sexually (by seed) and only multiplies vegetatively (by rhizome), which generally indicates that the plant has been domesticated for a very long time. 

All commercial ginger is therefore made up of clones from a handful of very old cultivars, perhaps dating back to the beginnings of agriculture 12,000 years ago. These cultivars are resistant to almost all diseases and insects, otherwise, they simply would not have survived the millennia. 

From an ecological point of view, this is ideal since their production requires relatively few fungicides or pesticides, except when growing conditions are inadequate.

Did you know? The ginger jar, as its name suggests, was used to store this spice. In China, where it comes from, it was offered as a wedding gift. Very popular in Europe in the 18th century and after, it was immortalized by famous painters, including Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Toussaint.

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