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  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

Ginger ( Zingiber Officinale Rosc. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Ginger
French Gingembre
German Ingwer
Spanish Jengibre
Italian Zenzero
Turkish Zencefil
Japanese 茗荷 Myōga
FAMILY: Zingiberaceae

ORIGIN:   Southern China, it is cultivated in India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia; Sierra Leone, Nigeria; Jamaica and other West Indies Islands Ginger rhizome with fresh shoot

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color, depending upon the variety. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young. The ginger rhizome has a firm, yet striated texture and a taste that is aromatic, pungent and hot.

USEFUL PARTS:


Ginger rhizome with fresh shoot
The large, fleshy rhizome. In the fresh state, it has a characteristic staghorn-like appearance; dried ginger is usually sold in form of an off-white to very light brown powder. Ginger leaves are occasionally used for flavouring in ginger producing countries. The rhizome contains the spicy parts.

SENSORY QUALITY:

Aromatic, pungent and spicy. It has refreshing, lemon-like smell; pungent, warm taste.

NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES:


MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

The main constituents in ginger are phenolic compounds such as gingerols and shogaols, and sesquiterpenes such as zingiberene. These and other compounds are extracts found in ginger oleoresin. The main pungent flavor chemicals are the gingerols, which are not volatile. The essential oil (1 to 3% of the fresh rhizome) contains mostly sesquiterpenes, e.g., (-)-zingiberene (up to 70%), (+)-ar-curcumene β-sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene and farnesene. Monoterpenoids occur in traces (β-phelladrene, cineol, citral).

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:

Fresh ginger is essential to Asian and oriental cookery and it adds a special flavor to many fruit and vegetable dishes.. It is used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes and the ground dried root is a constituent of many curry powders. Tender young ginger can be sliced and eaten as a salad. Dried ginger is mainly used in cakes and biscuits, especially ginger snaps and gingerbread. Ginger is also used in puddings, jams, preserves and in some drinks like ginger beer, ginger wine and tea. Preserved ginger is eaten as a confection, chopped up for cakes and puddings, and is sometimes used as an ice cream ingredient.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

Ginger is know of being effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative and intestinal spasmolytic. Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

Gastrointestinal Relief

Ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.

Safe and Effective Relief of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy

Ginger's anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Unlike antivomiting drugs, which can cause severe birth defects, ginger is extremely safe, and only a small dose is required. A review of six double-blind, randomized controlled trials with a total of 675 participants, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology,has confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The review also confirmed the absence of significant side effects or adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. In several surveys ginger is known againts arthritis-related problems with aging knees. Ginger has an anti-inflammatory property. A study published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine sheds further light on the mechanisms of action that underlie ginger's anti-inflammatory effectiveness. In this research, ginger was shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory compounds (cytokines and chemokines) produced by synoviocytes (cells comprising the synovial lining of the joints), chrondrocytes (cells comprising joint cartilage) and leukocytes (immune cells). [1]

Protection against Colorectal Cancer

Gingerols, the main active components in ginger and the ones responsible for its distinctive flavor, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells, suggests research presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research. [2] Ginger compounds may be effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas. Gingerol is considered as an anti- cancer agent by several experimental studies.

Ginger Induces Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells

Gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion). Ginger extracts have been shown to have both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects on cells. A whole ginger extract containing 5% gingerol on a number of different ovarian cancer cell lines. Exposure to the ginger extract caused cell death in all the ovarian cancer lines studied. A pro-inflammatory state is thought to be an important contributing factor in the development of ovarian cancer. In the presence of ginger, a number of key indicators of inflammation were also decreased in the ovarian cancer cells. Conventional chemotherapeutic agents also suppress these inflammatory markers, but may cause cancer cells to become resistant to the action of the drugs. Ginger may be of special benefit for ovarian cancer patients because cancer cells exposed to ginger do not become resistant to its cancer-destroying effects. In the case of ovarian cancer, an ounce of prevention-in the delicious form of liberal use of ginger-is an especially good idea. Ovarian cancer is often deadly since symptoms typically do not appear until late in the disease process, so by the time ovarian cancer is diagnosed, it has spread beyond the ovaries. More than 50% of women who develop ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease. [1]

Immune Boosting Action

Ginger can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flus. A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification. German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections. Investigators have isolated the gene responsible for the compound and the protein it produces, which they have named dermicidin. Dermicidin is manufactured in the body's sweat glands, secreted into the sweat, and transported to the skin's surface where it provides protection against invading microorganisms, including bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (a common cause of skin infections), and fungi, including Candida albicans. [1] Ginger is concentrated with active substances therefore it is not necessary to consume much to recieve its beneficial effects.

REFERENCES and SOURCES:
http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Zing_off.html
http://www.plantcultures.org/plants/ginger_landing.html
http://www.apinchof.com/ginger1021.html
http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/ginger.html
http://web.archive.org/web/20070225092843/unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm?displayID=15
[1] http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72
[2] Bode A. Ginger is an effective inhibitor of HCT116 human colorectal carcinoma in vivo. paper presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Phoenix, AZ, October 26-30, 2003 2003.
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