This article is taken from the monthly n ° 883 of Sciences et Avenir-La Recherche, dated September 2020.
With its characteristic spicy flavor, ginger gives exoticism to our dishes and drinks! Fresh, dried, candied or powdered, the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale enhances both savory and sweet dishes thanks to its intense fragrance. In Japanese cuisine, gari, ginger marinated in rice vinegar and sugar, accompanies the famous sushi. In India, it is an ingredient in many mixtures such as masala, in Great Britain and Canada, it is used in the composition of gingerbread and a drink, the ginger ale. Cultivated in many tropical regions (China, India, Ceylon, Jamaica, West Africa), ginger has been used for thousands of years for therapeutic purposes in traditional Chinese, Tibetan and Indian medicines. In the 12th century, the German nun Hildegarde de Bingen, doctor, naturalist, made it the basis of many anti-infective drugs. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, it is sought after for its supposed aphrodisiac properties due to the slight sensation of heat which accompanies its tasting. Focus on this spice that awakens our taste buds so well.
It has a high antioxidant power
The rhizome of ginger is said to contain more than 40 antioxidants (gingerols, shogaols, zingerones), phenolic compounds from the vanilloid family which give this impression of heat in the mouth. Their content depends on the nature of the ginger: when ground, it ranks third among the most antioxidant foods (21,571 mmol / 100 g) among more than 1,000 analyzed (chocolate, cereals, fruits and vegetables) (1). The concentration of gingerols, a major constituent of ginger, would be 36% for the fresh rhizome, against 17% in the dried form (2). On the other hand, the shogaols content is on the contrary higher in dried ginger. Cooking would increase the antioxidant activity, because certain components, resistant to heat, would be released when exposed to it. In addition, consuming ginger in combination with garlic or onion would increase the antioxidant effects of each of the condiments.
It alleviates nausea and vomiting
Its use is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the prevention of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, in motion sickness and after surgery. This antiemetic effect would be attributed to gingerols and shogaols which would reduce stomach spasms. A US study shows that taking 0.5 to 1.5 g of ginger daily for three days before and after chemotherapy, in addition to conventionally prescribed anti-nausea drugs, would help reduce the severity of nausea, compared to the control group ( 3).
It relieves headaches
The gingerols which give the spice its pungent taste are said to have anti-inflammatory properties. The administration of 250 mg of powdered ginger would be as effective as taking 50 mg of sumatriptan, an anti-migraine medication, according to a randomized, double-blind clinical trial in 100 people with migraine without aura. And this with fewer side effects. In the group who took sumatriptan, 20% experienced dizziness or stomach pain while only 4% of those who took ginger experienced mild indigestion (4).
It would have a possible effect on cancer
The anticancer potential of gingerols has been observed in vitro, and a study demonstrated a promising effect of ginger as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of prostate cancer (5).
In addition, the spice would reduce the level of intestinal inflammation by 28% in people having received 2 g of ground daily for 25 days. It could therefore be a preventive agent for colorectal cancer (6). However, these results need to be confirmed.
It would act against diabetes
Consumption of 3 capsules of 1 gram of powdered ginger daily for eight weeks reduced fasting blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin values, according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in nearly 88 diabetics from type 2 (7). In addition, taking 2g per day of powder for twelve weeks is thought to improve triglyceride levels and insulin sensitivity (8).
You have to be careful to keep it well
Powdered, ginger can be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dry place, protected from light. Fresh, it can be kept for several weeks in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator or even in the freezer in order to be able to grate it more easily.
Excessive consumption can lead to mild diarrhea or heartburn. It is also not recommended to take it before surgery because of its anticoagulant properties, or in the event of gallstones. People on anti-diabetic or antihypertensive treatment should also seek medical advice before consuming the root.
(1) Content of redox-active compounds in foods consumed in the USA, Halvorsen BL. et al, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. , 2006.
(2) Composition and effects on LPS-stimulated PGE2 production, Jolad SD et al., Phytochemistry, 2005.
(3) Ginger reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: A URCC CCOP study of 576 patients, Ryan, JL. et al, Cancer care support , 2012.
(4) Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine, Maghbooli M. et al, Phytother. Res. , 2014.
(5) Shogaol from dried ginger inhibits growth of prostate cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo, Saha A. et al, Cancer Prev. Res., 2014.
(6) Study of the Effects of Ginger Root Extract on Eicosanoids in Colon Mucosa in People at Normal Risk for Colorectal Cancer, Zick S. et al, Cancer Prev. Res. , 2011.
(7) The effect of ginger powder supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in patients with type 2 diabetes, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, The Complement Ther. Med. , 2014.
(8) Metabolic parameters in subjects with metabolic syndrome, Rahimlou M. et al, J. Diabetes Metab. Disord., 2019.
Stem underground, which bears roots and aerial stems. The young rhizomes are juicy and fleshy, with a very sweet taste. The ripe ones are fibrous, almost dry and have a more pronounced taste.
Compounds produced by plants to protect against environmental aggressions. They are able, when we assimilate them, to neutralize free radicals.
Heat production of the body by increasing cell metabolism. When thermogenesis is stimulated, energy expenditure is increased, limiting the storage of energy in the form of fat.
Dr Laëtitia Proust-Millon, dietitian-nutritionist in La Brède (Gironde) *
“Ginger stimulates digestion”
“Composed of 90% water, ginger is a source of vitamin B9 and A, mineral salts and trace elements such as copper and magnesium. But in view of the amounts ingested, around 2 g per day, this is not is not from a nutritional point of view that it is the most interesting. On the other hand, the rhizome stimulates the secretion of bile and the activity of different digestive enzymes. Combining it with turmeric, another spice with digestive virtues, increases the bioavailability of the latter. Ginger would also have an appetite suppressant effect by increasing the secretion of leptin, the satiety hormone as well as so-called fat-burning qualities by increasing thermogenesis and therefore basic metabolism. “
* Author of My anti-inflammatory diet bible, Ed. Leduc, 2019.