When you first taste ginger, you’ll likely notice its pungent, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor. This distinctive taste sets it apart from other spices, making it a primary ingredient in many cuisines and beverages worldwide. And this aromatic root also has many potential medicinal uses from preventing nausea to digestive support. Join us as we dive into the root of this root, and why we decided to build an entirely new OLIPOP flavor (hint: Ginger Ale!) featuring this complex and captivating ingredient.
What Is Ginger?
Ginger is a flowering plant with a thick, knobby, and aromatic root commonly used as a spice and herbal remedy. The scientific name of ginger is Zingiber officinale.1 It belongs to the family Zingiberaceae, which also includes turmeric and cardamom.2 The ginger plant is native to Southeast Asia but is now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world.
History & Common Uses of Ginger
Ginger has a unique pungent and slightly sweet flavor, which makes it a popular spice in various cuisines worldwide. Ginger's spiciness gives it a zing or a kick that adds depth to dishes. It’s not as overpowering as other spices, but it still imparts a noticeable heat that can be soothing to some and a little surprising to others, particularly if you're not accustomed to it.
You’ll find ginger in sweet and savory dishes such as curries, stir-fries, soups, and baked goods (think: gingerbread!). Additionally, ginger is an essential ingredient in many traditional beverages like ginger tea, ginger ale, and ginger beer.
Besides its culinary uses, ginger has a long history of medicinal use in various cultures. It contains bioactive compounds, including gingerol and shogaols, which are responsible for ginger’s characteristic flavor and potential health benefits.1 Ginger is often used to ease digestive issues, reduce nausea, and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Ginger is available in different forms, such as fresh ginger root, dried ginger powder, candied ginger, and ginger supplements. When using fresh ginger, you can peel and grate it for cooking or make ginger tea by steeping sliced ginger in hot water.
Ginger is a low-calorie spice with a relatively small amount of fat and protein. Its main component is carbohydrates, primarily in the form of dietary fiber. The dietary fiber in ginger contributes to its potential health benefits, aiding in digestion and promoting gut health.
Here are the approximate nutrition facts for 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw ginger:3
- Calories: 80 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 17.8 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2 grams
- Sugars: 1.7 grams
- Protein: 1.8 grams
- Fat: 0.8 grams
- Vitamin C: 5 mg (8% of the Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 0.16 mg (8% of the Daily Value)
- Iron: 0.6 mg (3% of the Daily Value)
- Potassium: 415 mg (12% of the Daily Value)
- Magnesium: 43 mg (11% of the Daily Value)
It's important to note that the nutritional content of ginger can vary slightly depending on its freshness, variety, and preparation. For example, dried ginger powder may have a different nutritional profile from fresh ginger. While ginger is not typically consumed in large quantities, incorporating it into your diet can add unique flavor and potential health benefits to your meals.
Potential Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger has a long history in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese traditional medicine, with evidence that China has used the root in medicine for more than 2,500 years!4 Its bioactive compounds, such as gingerol, contribute to its characteristic flavor and potential health-boosting properties. These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that could provide health benefits.
While we need more research to fully understand these effects, several studies suggest that ginger may offer the following health benefits:
- Digestive Health: Ginger is popular for its purported ability to promote digestion and soothe various digestive issues. It may help reduce symptoms of indigestion, such as bloating, gas, and stomach discomfort. Ginger may also aid in easing nausea and vomiting, making it a popular choice for motion sickness while traveling or morning sickness during pregnancy.4 5
- Anti-Nausea for Chemotherapy: Ginger also shows promise in reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, providing a natural and complementary option for cancer patients undergoing treatment.1 5
- Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief: Ginger contains bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds may help reduce inflammation in the body. Some individuals use ginger to alleviate muscle pain and soreness. But we need more research to confirm these benefits.
- Immune Support: Ginger's antioxidant content may also offer immune-boosting properties which could help protect the body from oxidative stress and support a healthy immune system. This is why many people turn to ginger when they’re feeling sick!
- Heart Health: Some studies suggest that ginger may impact heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.1
- Weight Management: Ginger may aid in weight management. It has a fiber content that could help promote feelings of fullness and reduce hunger, which could potentially lead to reduced calorie intake.
- Diabetes Management: Lastly, research indicates that ginger may help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.1 6
As with any herbal remedy, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using ginger for medicinal purposes, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications. Additionally, excessive consumption of ginger may cause side effects such as heartburn, diarrhea, and mouth and throat irritation, especially in certain individuals, so it's essential to use it in moderation.4
Why Is Ginger in OLIPOP?
We just added a brand-new flavor to our soda lineup: OLIPOP Ginger Ale. Our soda pays homage to this classic soda but with a modern twist. It features a combination of delicious juices from sweet lime, quince, and real ginger for a uniquely sophisticated yet nostalgic taste.
Why feature ginger in our OLIPOP Ginger Ale? We think the question is less why and more, why not? From soothing upset stomachs to relieving nausea, ginger possesses medicinal properties that make it an incredibly useful and versatile ingredient. Plus, ginger ale has long been an O.G. in the soda aisle. And it's about time we put our own OLIPOP twist on this classic beverage. And now you can pop open a can and give this new flavor a try yourself.
- Ginger. (n.d.). Mount Sinai Health System. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/ginger
- Poulson, B., Horowitz, D., & Trevino, H. M. (n.d.). Ginger. In University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Ginger
- FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169231/nutrients
- Ginger. (2020, December). National Institutes of Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger
- Slattery, E. (2022, November 1). Ginger benefits. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ginger-benefits
- Baby, D. P. (2020, September 19). Health benefits of ginger. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-ginger
- Ginger is a flowering plant with a thick, knobby, and aromatic root commonly used as a spice and herbal remedy. It belongs to the family Zingiberaceae and it’s native to Southeast Asia.
- Ginger has a unique pungent and slightly sweet flavor, which makes it a popular spice in various cuisines worldwide, including Chinese, Indian, and Japanese foods.
- Ginger has a long history of medicinal use thanks to its bioactive compounds, including gingerol. It’s often used to ease digestive issues, reduce nausea, and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
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