Ginger is becoming increasingly popular because of its health benefits and its distinctive flavor it owes to the substance gingerol. Raw and dried ginger have been used to treat a number of health problems in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
From Wikipedia: “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine.
It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual stems about a meter tall bearing narrow green leaves and yellow flowers. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae, to which also belong turmeric (Curcuma longa), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and galangal. Ginger originated in the tropical rainforest in Southern Asia. Although ginger no longer grows wild, it is thought to have originated on the Indian subcontinent. ... Ginger was exported to Europe via India in the first century AD as a result of the lucrative spice trade and was used extensively by the Romans.
The distantly related dicots in the genus Asarum are commonly called wild ginger because of their similar taste.”
“In 100 grams, ground dried ginger (10% water) provides numerous essential nutrients in high content, particularly the dietary mineral manganese as a multiple of its Daily Value (DV, table). In a typical spice serving amount of one US tablespoon or 5 g, however, ginger powder provides negligible content of essential nutrients, with the exception of manganese present as 79% of DV.
Due to its higher content of water (80%), raw ginger root has lower overall nutrient content when expressed per 100 grams.”
“The characteristic fragrance and flavor of ginger result from volatile oils that compose 1-3% of the weight of fresh ginger, primarily consisting of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols ... Zingerone is produced from gingerols during drying, having lower pungency and a spicy-sweet aroma.”
“Ginger produces a hot, fragrant kitchen spice. Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can be steeped in boiling water to make ginger tisane, to which honey is often added; sliced orange or lemon fruit may be added. Ginger can be made into candy, or ginger wine, which has been made commercially since 1740.
Mature ginger rhizomes are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from ginger roots is often used as a seasoning in Indian recipes and is a common ingredient of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and many South Asian cuisines for flavoring dishes such as seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes.
Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of six to one, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.
Candied ginger, or crystallized ginger, is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.
Fresh ginger may be peeled before eating. For longer-term storage, the ginger can be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated or frozen.”
“Gingerroot contains a viscous balsam ... that consists of essential oils and pungent gingerols and shogaols. Preparations made from gingerroot are thought to have antioxidant, antiemetic (antinausea), and anti-inflammatory properties and also to stimulate the production of gastric juice, saliva, and bile as well as digestive activity. As a result, ginger is used in traditional Eastern medicine to treat rheumatism, muscle pain, and colds. The Kommission E (scientific advisory board in Germany) and the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) endorse the use of gingerroot in the case of gastrointestinal problems and nausea.*”
Composition and safety:
“If consumed in reasonable quantities, ginger has few negative side effects. It is on the FDA's "generally recognized as safe" list, though it does interact with some medications, including the anticoagulant drug warfarin and the cardiovascular drug, nifedipine. ”
Note (italics): * = Translation from a German Wikipedia entry