Ginger and pickled vegetables are both foods you should have in your diet, containing a wealth of nutritional value and helpful nutrients. Combining them might mean you get the best of both worlds. So is pickled ginger good for you?
For hundreds of years, ginger has been enjoyed for its spicy, tangy flavor, but it has also been used medicinally to treat stomach problems, nausea, and arthritis. Today, we know ginger has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and other beneficial functions for our body (1). Enjoyed on sushi, in kimchi, or a variety of other dishes, pickled ginger is a great source of many nutrients and disease-preventing compounds.
Some of the Benefits Health of Ginger
Ginger is best known for the reduction of nausea and vomiting
Whether it’s Gravol™ or Ginger Ale, most of us reach for some form of ginger when nausea and vomiting are just too much. It has been used for centuries as a stomach-calming agent and now comes in convenient, purified capsules. Ginger, as a supplement or food item, can also be a great thing for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting (2).
Antioxidants are so good for us, getting rid of those free oxygen radical by-products of our metabolism. Ginger contains 3.85mmol per 100grams of these antioxidants, a quantity much higher than most foods (only beaten out by antioxidant-heavyweight champions pomegranates and berries) (3). Therefore, ginger reduces what is called “oxidative stress,” which is directly related to reduced disease, improved organ function, and longer lifespan (4).
Ginger may be beneficial for weight loss
In a recent study aimed at reducing fatty liver disease, ginger was found not to affect disease development and symptoms, but the researchers still found something interesting. The participants who took ginger decreased their overall weight, BMI, and waist/hip circumference measurements during the study, compared to those who did not take the supplement (5). This suggests ginger may be beneficial for weight loss as a nutritional supplement.
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Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is a great thing when we have an infection and need to attract immune cells that will fight off infection and start the healing process. But, chronic inflammation that carries on long after an injury has occurred is not a good thing. Excess weight, metabolic diseases (like diabetes), and many other conditions can cause chronic inflammation. Ginger has been shown in several studies to inhibit pro-inflammatory processes, reducing excessive inflammatory responses that are unnecessary and harmful (6, 7). This also may be responsible for the effect noted that ginger could improve diabetes symptoms and development and diabetes-related complications (8, 9).
Ginger could boost your testosterone levels
Low testosterone can be caused by an injury, radiation treatment for cancer, inflammatory disease (which is where ginger could help, as well!), chronic diseases, and many other potential causes (10). Early studies with ginger suggest that it might enhance testosterone production by increasing cholesterol in the testes, reducing oxidative stress, normalizing blood glucose levels, and increasing luteinizing hormone levels (11). Future studies are needed, but this would make an excellent alternative to steroid and hormone therapies for testosterone deficiency.
Ginger can reduce exercise-induced pain
Participants who ate raw and heat-treated ginger routinely before exercising found it improved their inflammation and pain post-exercise. Compared to a placebo, daily supplementation with 2 grams of raw ginger was found to reduce overall muscle pain after exercising, but heat-treating, the ginger had no additional benefits. This is thought to be because of ginger’s immune-boosting effects, as evidenced by animal studies (12). Another human study showed that while ginger supplementation did not reduce muscle damage after exercise, it did reduce inflammation and muscle recovery (13).
Is Pickled Ginger Good for You?
So, ginger is a great addition to your diet for several reasons. But what about pickled ginger? A major benefit to pickling is that it preserves foods that typically cannot be stored for years on end, reducing food waste (14). For example, Ginger is good for 4-6 weeks fresh, but unopened pickled ginger is good for two years or longer, retaining many of its health benefits. Pickled ginger, like many pickled vegetables, is a low pH food that is high in beneficial microbes. Particularly Lactobacillus bacteria (which you may recognize as the primary probiotic in your Activia™ yogurt), ginger microbes can boost your gut microbiota, which can prevent disease and improve overall health (15, 16). Depending on the fermentation time and salt concentration used, different pickled vegetables, including ginger, can have different microbial content and pH levels, but these characteristics make it a very good addition for your health (15).
Now we can see why
Pickled ginger is so great for your health. You get all of the microbial benefits of pickled food, along with the diverse health benefits of ginger root. So load up your sushi, add pickled ginger to your sandwich, and even add this pickled root to your roast chicken dinner (a bizarre but delicious combination) and enjoy all of the health benefits that this salty, tangy addition has to offer.