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Spice It Up! Boosting Your Health with Spices and Herbs (Part 2)
October 26, 2009
Wow, so many great ideas for using cinnamon have been shared on my blog post from last week. Cinnamon is definitely one of my favorite spices, and probably one of yours, given the response. Yet there are so many other aromatic spices that can not only lend great flavor to food, but that can offer health benefits, too. Let’s look at another popular spice: ginger.
Ginger is known in herbal medicine circles as a carminative, or a substance that helps to alleviate (ahem) gas, as well as a spasmolytic, or something that helps to relax the muscles of the intestines. Double-blind studies show that ginger is actually better than over-the-counter medicine for relieving the symptoms of motion sickness (especially seasickness) such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and sweating (good to know for anyone embarking on a cruise this winter!). Ginger may help with nausea associated with chemotherapy, as well.
If you know anyone who is pregnant and dealing with morning sickness (technically called hyperemesis gravidarum), you might point her in the direction of ginger root. Research shows that ginger is safer and more effective than antinausea drugs in relieving the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Not bothered by motion sickness? Not pregnant? Ginger might still be of help to you. Due to its potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, ginger can help relieve the pain of arthritis by suppressing inflammatory substances that attack the cells in joints. And since all of us are at risk for both the regular and H1N1 flu this season, we’d be wise to consume some ginger, either by eating fresh ginger root or drinking ginger tea. Ginger stimulates the body to sweat more, which, in turn, protects the body from harmful bacteria and viruses (and doesn’t the thought of a hot cup of ginger tea when you’re not feeling well sound good?).
Different Forms of Ginger
Dried ginger root. Dried ginger root is available as slices of fresh ginger that have been dried. It should be soaked in liquid before use.
Dried ginger powder. Most of us probably have a small can or jar of powdered ginger in our spice cupboards. A quarter teaspoon of ginger powder, or ground ginger, is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger. Always store ginger (and other spices) in a tightly capped container, away from light, heat, and moisture. Dried ginger will last about one year in the refrigerator.
Crystallized ginger. Crystallized ginger is a real treat. This is ginger root that has been cooked in syrup and coated with sugar. One ounce of crystallized ginger contains about 95 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrate.
Pickled ginger. This form of ginger is usually pink or red, and has been pickled in vinegar. It often accompanies sushi dishes.
Ginger supplements. Ginger also comes in tablet, capsule, or liquid form as a dietary supplement. Some sources cite 4 grams of ginger per day as the maximum recommended dose.
More next week!
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