adds a fragrant zest to both sweet and savory foods. The pleasantly spicy “kick” from the root of Zingiber officinale, the ginger plant, is what makes ginger ale, ginger tea, candies and many Asian dishes so appealing.

What is ginger good for?

In addition to great taste, ginger provides a range of health benefits that you can enjoy in many forms. Here's what you should know about all the ways ginger can add flavor to your food and support your well-being.

Health

Ginger is not just delicious. Gingerol, a natural component of ginger root, benefits gastrointestinal motility ― the rate at which food exits the stomach and continues along the digestive process. Eating ginger encourages efficient digestion, so food doesn't linger as long in the gut.

  • Nausea relief. Encouraging stomach emptying can relieve the discomforts of nausea due to:
    • Chemotherapy. Experts who work with patients receiving chemo for cancer, say ginger may take the edge off post-treatment nausea, and without some of the side effects of anti-nausea medications.
    • Pregnancy. For generations, women have praised the power of ginger to ease “morning sickness” and other queasiness associated with pregnancy. Even the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology mentions ginger as an acceptable nonpharmaceutical remedy for nausea and vomiting.
  • Bloating and gas. Eating ginger can cut down on fermentation, constipation and other causes of bloating and intestinal gas.
  • Wear and tear on cells. Ginger contains antioxidants. These molecules help manage free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells when their numbers grow too high.
  • Is ginger anti-inflammatory? It is possible. Ginger contains over 400 natural compounds, and some of these are anti-inflammatory. More studies will help us determine if eating ginger has any impact on conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or respiratory inflammation.

Ginger Side Effects

Research shows that ginger is safe for most people to eat in normal amounts — such as those in food and recipes. However, there are a couple of concerns.

Higher doses, such as those in supplements, may increase risk of bleeding. The research isn't conclusive, but people on anti-coagulant therapy (blood thinners such as warfarin, aspirin and others) may want to be cautious.

Studies are exploring if large amounts of ginger may affect insulin and lower blood sugar, so until more is known, people with diabetes can enjoy normal quantities of ginger in food but should steer clear of large-dose ginger supplements.

For any questions about ginger or any other food ingredient and how it might affect your health, a clinical dietitian can provide information and guidance.