Ginger root nutrition facts
Ginger root is a popular root herb of culinary as well as medicinal importance. The root still finds special place in many traditional Indian and Chinese medicines for its unique phyto-chemicals that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.
The spicy root is actually an underground rhizome of small herb plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, of the genus: Zingiber.
Scientific name: Zingiber officinale.
The ginger herb is thought to originate in the Himalayan ranges in Southeast Asia. It is now widely grown all over the world at commercial scale. The plant grows to about a meter in height featuring thin grass like dark green leaves and bears small yellow flowers.
Its root features knotty finger like projections that grow downward from the ground surface. Fresh raw root has silver gray outer surface. Cut sections feature creamy white, yellow, or red colored crunchy flesh depending upon the variety. The root often contains fibrils running through its center, especially in over-matured. Its pungent, spicy and aromatic smell is due to essential oils and phenolic compounds such as gingerols and shogaols.
Galangal (Alpinia galanga), also known as blue ginger, is a close related herb cultivated extensively in East Asian regions. Galangal has mild flavor and less spicy taste than ginger.
Health benefits of ginger root
Ginger has been in use since ancient times for its anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent, and anti-microbial properties.
The root contains many health benefiting essential oils such as gingerol, zingerone, shogaol, farnesene and small amounts of ?-phelladrene, cineol, and citral. Gingerols help improve the intestinal motility and has anti-inflammatory, painkiller (analgesic), nerve soothing, anti-pyretic as well as anti-bacterial properties. Studies have shown that it may reduce nausea induced by motion sickness or pregnancy and may help relieve migraine headaches.
Zingerone, which gives pungent character to the ginger root, has been found to be effective against E.coli induced diarrhea, especially in children.
This herb root is low in calories and contains no cholesterol, but is very rich source of many essential nutrients and vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), pantothenic acid (vit.B-5) that are essential for optimum health.
It also contains good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Ginger root slices boiled in hot water with added lemon or orange juice and honey is a popular herbal drink in ayurvedic medicine to relieve common cold, cough, and sore throat.
It is also used as vehicle in many ayurvedic decoctions to mask bitterness and alter taste.
Gingerols increase the motility of the gastrointestinal tract and have analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that it may reduce nausea caused by motion sickness or pregnancy and may relieve migraine.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.75 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.0 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.203 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||5 mg||8%|
|Vitamin E||0.26 mg||1.5%|
|Vitamin K||0.1 µg||0%|
Selection and storage
Ginger plant can be grown at home garden or as potherb so that fresh roots are readily available for use whenever the need arises. In the store, however, choose fresh organic herb over the dried form of the since it is superior in quality and flavor.
Fresh roots should feature heavy in hand, stout, juicy, has grey-yellow peel and free from dark spots or mold. Dried, powdered, or ground root can also be found in these stores; however, they may contain significantly reduced levels of volatile oils like gingerols.
Fresh root can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month or so. Powdered/ground ginger should be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers.
Wash fresh ginger root in cold running water or rinse for few minutes to remove any sand, soil or pesticide residues. Fresh root has pungent flavor and spicy, peppery taste that hits the palate and nostrils. In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, it is generally added at the last moment in the cooking recipes, since prolonged cooking results in evaporation of essential oils.
Fresh or dried ginger root along with garlic, cilantro, onion, tomato, cumin and mustard seeds made to a flavorful curry paste which is then added to variety of vegetable, meat and curry/soup preparations.
The herb root is also used in the preparation of mango, lemon and spondias (ambara in India) pickles.
Fresh root can be used in the preparation of variety of spicy snacks, candies, and ginger bread in food industry.
Ginger tea is a popular drink in many Asian countries.
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