Ginger…you either love it or hate it, right? An abundance of new evidence suggests people in both categories should consider getting more ginger into their diets, as ginger seems to play an important, measurable role in weight management and gastrointestinal health, and has anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits as well. Oh, and it might just make you prettier.
Last summer, a study by researchers at the Institute for Human Nutrition at Columbia University found that adding a hot ginger beverage to the diet of human subjects made them feel fuller after a meal and less likely to eat more later. “The results, showing enhanced thermogenesis and reduced feelings of hunger with ginger consumption, suggest a potential role of ginger in weight management,” the researchers said, calling for additional studies to confirm the findings.
For centuries, ginger has been the go-to root for a wide range of GI distresses. Researchers believe its compounds stimulate digestive secretions, improve intestinal muscle tone, and help move food through the gastrointestinal tract.
It’s safe to take ginger in small doses (less than 1,000 milligrams) for a short period of time during pregnancy, says Joyce Frye, a doctor of osteopathy and clinical assistant professor at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Got bad period cramps? Try ginger tea. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was as effective as ibuprofen for relieving painful periods. Just steep 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root in water for 15 minutes, strain, and enjoy with honey or lemon.
If bumpy flights and long car trips make your stomach turn, try a piece of crystallized or pickled ginger. Ginger worked better than dimenhydrinate (the active ingredient in over-the-counter motion-sickness meds) at preventing and treating motion sickness, according to Brigham Young University research.
Fresh ginger—sipped in tea or eaten straight-up—is best, says Sari Greaves, RD, of New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. I suggest you make your own low-sugar, super-spicy ginger ale.
But ginger in other forms (dried, powdered, cooked) can be effective too. A tea to try: Yogi Lemon Ginger Tea and Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Ginger Aid ($4 to $5; grocery stores). Ginger ale? Most brands have little or no real ginger and lots of high-fructose corn syrup.