Spices for Health: Ginger


Ginger is one of those spices that is good in anything! Sweet or savory. Ginger has a sweet, pungent spicy kick to it. You can find ginger fresh in the produce section of most stores, or as the dried ground spice. But, if you’ve never cooked with fresh ginger, you are missing out!

This spicy root is native to Southeast Asia and is a common ingredient in Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indian food (and more since its popularity has spread worldwide!).

Ginger has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Traditionally, it’s been used to treat upset stomachs, nausea, colds, arthritis and migraines. The most common and well established use of ginger throughout history is its ability to help with nausea and vomiting.

Luckily, ginger is also one of the most studied spices. Research has focused mostly on ginger’s effects on heart disease, diabetes, pain, cancer and of course stomach issues.

  • Ginger has anti-platelet, hypotensive, and hypolipidemic effects, meaning that it could help decrease your risk for heart disease.
  • Ginger may help increase insulin sensitivity in those with Type II Diabetes.
  • Ginger can reduce pain in those with osteoarthritis; a few studies even found that it was just as effective as taking ibuprofen for arthritis pain.
  • Ginger has been shown to reduce certain types of cancer by inhibiting the growth and production of cancer cells and also by inducing the death of cancer cells. Other studies show that due to ginger’s anti-inflammatory actions it reduced cancer risk.
  • Ginger has been found to be effective in treating gas, bloating, nausea and vomiting. In fact, ginger has been reported to be as effective as Dramamine in treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy with fewer side effects.

Want some ideas on how to add more ginger to your life?

  • Grate fresh ginger over fruit or stir into yogurt.
  • Add grated ginger to smoothies, salad dressings, sauces and marinades.
  • Mix fresh grated ginger with a little honey for a sweet and spicy glaze for steamed or sautéed carrots or broiled salmon.
  • Make a tea out of sliced ginger, fresh lemon and warm water.

For information on other spices with superpowers, check out Spices for Health: Cinnamon and Turmeric.


Chicken Teriyaki
Makes 5 servings
Recipe Adapted from: eatlifewhole.com


Most teriyaki sauces contain high fructose corn syrup, MSG and other things you don’t want to put in your body. This recipe is quick, easy, yummy and all natural!


⅓ cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp honey, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger (about 2" ginger), grated
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 lbs chicken (I used 1 pound boneless, skinless breast and 1 pound boneless, skinless thighs)
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)


1. Pour tamari in bowl and add water, melted honey, minced garlic, grated ginger, and half of the thinly sliced green onions (the other half will be used for garnish).

2. Whisk until everything is combined. The sauce is ready to use as a marinade OR store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

3. To marinate, add the chicken and let it sit for about 10 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, pre-heat your pan or grill.

4. Place the chicken on the grill pan or grill and cook until done (timing will depend on thickness of the meat), flipping once.

5. Garnish with the remaining slices of green onion.

Note: You can also use this marinade on fish, beef, tofu or vegetables.



Kale, Sesame and Ginger Salad
Makes 5 servings
Recipe Adapted from: eatlifewhole.com



1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped or torn into 2" pieces (ribs left on)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (preferably raw)
⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper
⅛ tsp sea salt


  1. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath (about 12 ice cubes and cold water). Set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, boil 4 cups of water.
  3. Using tongs, blanch kale in hot water for about 30 seconds and immediately drop into the cold ice bath to stop the cooking process. The leaves should turn bright green. Set aside to cool.
  4. Prepare your dressing in a small bowl by whisking the minced ginger, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar and salt.
  5. Strain the kale to remove all of the water. Toss with toasted sesame seeds and dressing.
  6. Enjoy!



About Author

Kelly Gehle, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Kelly is a Nutritionist at the HCC at SAS Institute Inc. in Cary NC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Her areas of expertise include functional nutrition, health and wellness education, prenatal nutrition, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition.

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