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Ginger is revered throughout the Western World as a great natural remedy for stomach aches and nausea. However, this popular root is every bit as appreciated in the culinary space as well, used in both sweet and spicy cooking. Native to Southeast Asia, India and China, ginger was one of the first spices exported from the Orient during the historic spice trade. The flavorful spice is incredibly versatile and is also used medicinally in many regions of the world.
Ginger is a flowering plant – Zingiber officinale – and produces beautiful yellow flowers. It is commonly found in warmer climates and is classified as an herb. But it is the root of the ginger plant, also called rhizome, that is used all over the world to enhance Asian cuisines and baking. Once the plant withers, the root is harvested.
Ground ginger is a fine powder that can easily be added to various recipes, dressings, and marinades. Its sharp and spicy but refreshing flavor makes it a favorite in breads, cookies and muffins, but also goes well in warm milk and hot tea. Ginger can also be consumed raw, pickled, dried, juiced, and crystalized. Interestingly, the older the ginger is, the more oil extracted.
In its root form, ginger is used regularly medicinally and has proven to:
- slow cancer, lower cholesterol and decrease blood sugar levels
- improve brain function
- ease menstruation symptoms and digestive issues
- reduce nausea
- help with osteoarthritis, stomach ulcers, and ward off infections
It is in the same family as turmeric, which is another proven anti-inflammatory.