What is Ginger? A Deep Dig to the Root
Ginger’s spicy, pungent scent-flavor sure adds zest to food and cocktails… with the help of its complex nutrients.
People have been using the root for cooking and healing for thousands of years. Ancient writings from Italy, Greece, and also Arab countries all describe ginger’s character and properties as a medicine. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states ginger has been used for medicinal purposes in China for more than 2,500 years – having a prominent role in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese medicine since the 1500s.
It was (and still is) greatly popular in Asian medicine as a treatment for stomach issues, such as nausea and diarrhea. Other traditional medical usage for ginger include treating muscle and joint pain, cold and flu symptoms, menstrual cramps, and topical skin burns.
People of today still consider ginger a natural way to soothe an upset stomach – hence unfrequent flyers desperately requesting a chilly can of ginger ale mid-flight.
Let’s dig up into the multi-purpose stem plant for a better understanding.
Ginger is a flowering plant that first sprouted in Southeast Asia, however is widely available today from global growers. It is classified as a member of the Zingiberaceae family – making it a close relative of turmeric and cardamom. The scientific name for ginger is Zingiber officinale, which is thought to come from the Sanskrit name for the spice: Singabera. The aromatic herb grows in moist areas of the tropics and subtropics, plus some regions that are seasonably dry.
The leafy stem plant reaches about three feet (3’) tall and creates clusters of greenish-purple flowers. Several species of shell ginger (Alpinia) are cultivated as ornamentals. Depending on the variety, a number of ornamental gingers are grown for their attractive flowers and foliage. Ginger lily (Hedychium) produces beautiful flowers that are used in garlands and other interior decorations.
Ginger’s root or rhizome (the underground stem) is the portion used as a culinary ingredient or healing aid. The inside of the root ranges in yellow, red, or white colors. It is plucked by pulling the entire plant out of the soil, removing the leaves, and brushing the root clean.
Ginger can be consumed raw, cooked, or candied; dried and stored as a spice, or turned into tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts for medicinal reasons. There is about 2 percent of essential oil in the root, which is used in the cosmetic industry as a fragrance in soaps and beauty products.
What exactly is in ginger root?
Below is a break-down the nutritional facts:
1 tablespoon (1tbsp) of fresh ginger has:
- 8 calories
- 07 grams (g) of carbohydrate
- .12 g of dietary fiber
- .11 g of protein
- .05 g fat
- .1 g of sugar
Many different vitamins and minerals are present in fresh ginger in trace amounts:
- Vitamin B3 and B6
- Vitamin C
*See health benefits for more, and talk with your health-care providers about any complementary health approaches you use.