The Amazing Benefits of Cooked and Dried Ginger

How Cooking and Heat Affect Ginger and Is Fresh Ginger Better than Dried Ginger

Ginger is an amazing spice with a number of health benefits that can aid your digestive system, soothe pain, and reduce inflammation. Ginger is also a delicious herb to cook with and it can “spice up” the flavor of any meal. It is a staple ingredient of Asian, Indian, and Caribbean cooking and it is just as tasty in savory dishes as it is in sweet dishes.

In cooking, you can use ginger in both its fresh and dried form. However, many people wonder what is the best way to use it in cooking in order to enjoy the medicinal properties of ginger. For example, is ginger best used raw or powdered and are any of its health benefits lost during the cooking process?

There is no doubt that ginger is an effective home remedy for many ailments and health complaints. For example, ginger tea can help relieve indigestion, and stop nausea and vomiting naturally. A ginger infusion or compress can help to relieve joint pain. It can also help you get natural relief from some symptoms associated with asthma. Ginger can also be combined with the healing power of turmeric to make a natural remedy to relieve gas and bloating or to make an anti inflammatory and pain relief tea.

In this article, I am going to look at how to use ginger when cooking and whether fresh ginger is better than dried one. I will also examine what science has to say about the effects of heating ginger and if any of ginger’s healing properties are lost during the cooking process.

The Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger (botanical name is Zingiber officinale) comes from the same family of turmeric and cardamom and mainly grows in India, South-East Asia, Africa, and Australia. The “flesh” of ginger root can range from an ivory color to a yellowish-green color and it has a spicy, peppery flavor.

The main compound of ginger is zingiberene which contains gingerols. According to scientists, the most pungent of the gingerols is 6-gingerol and this is related to capsaicin and piperine – spicy compounds which give chilies and black pepper respectively their “hot” taste.1

Studies in ginger have found that the gingerols and other compounds of ginger contain medicinal properties. For example, information published in the International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology found that ginger can help prevent various diseases. It reported that ginger is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial, and even shows anticancer activities.2

This means that it can help to treat and prevent a number of inflammatory diseases and conditions like stomach ulcers, swelling, arthritis, and joint pain. Ginger is also effective against various fungal and bacterial infections and can kill off, among others, E. coli and Salmonella typhi, and Candida Albicans strains.

When ginger is heated or dried another compound called shogaol is formed which has powerful antioxidant activities.

Let’s look in more depth now at how heating affects the chemical makeup of ginger.

How Cooking and Heat Affect Antioxidant Properties of Ginger

As we know, cooking changes the chemical components of most foods. In its raw, uncooked form, the active component of ginger is 6-gingerol. However, when ginger is heated, steamed, or cooked its composition changes and other compounds are formed.

One study published in the International Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine found that, in case of water extracts of raw ginger, boiling results into reduction while roasting has no significant effect on the antioxidant levels.3

However, another study into the effects of heat on ginger compounds found that if the boiling or roasting time was limited to between 2 and 6 minutes, the antioxidant levels of 6-gingerol increased. A decrease in the antioxidant level was noted after 8 minutes. Therefore, it seems that boiling or roasting ginger for up to 6 minutes increases the levels of antioxidants when compared to fresh ginger.11

Is Fresh Ginger Better than Dried Ground Ginger?

The increase of 6-gingerol antioxidants isn’t the only chemical change that has been observed when ginger is heated. Scientists have discovered that when drying ginger, new compounds are formed. These compounds aren’t present in fresh ginger and they are even more powerful than gingerols. One of these is 6-shogaol which is present in dried, ground ginger.

The journal Phytochemistry published information on a study showing that gingerol compounds break down under heat and form shogaols. This gives dried ginger its strong taste and smell. The study also confirmed that both gingerols and shogaols have very powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities.4 The journal Preventive Nutrition and Food Science found that the highest concentration of 6-shogaol was achieved when ginger was dried and extracted at 80°C.12

Studies have shown that shogaols are more potent and powerful than all the other ginger compounds. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology said that when comparing their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, 6-shogaol was superior to the other ginger compounds and concluded by saying that this justifies the use of dry ginger in medicine.5

Therefore, you shouldn’t be worried that ground ginger will lose its medicinal properties. In fact, the opposite is true. There is scientific evidence to show that using dried ground ginger actually increases the potency of its health benefits.

The Anti Cancer Properties of 6-Shagaol

Recent research into 6-shogaol extracted from ginger has shown that it also has powerful anti cancer benefits. Various studies into the potential for ginger in cancer treatment are showing promising results. For example, an article by the American Association for Cancer Research found that 6-shagaol from dried ginger inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. They stated that 6-shagaol “has a combination of activity, low toxicity, and biochemical properties that makes it of potential utility as a naturally occurring chemopreventive and/or therapeutic agent in prostate cancer”.6

When researching the use of 6-shogaol ginger extract for breast cancer, the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that 6-shogaol can inhibit the spread of cancer tumors.7 Other studies into other types of cancers have shown similar results.8

The purpose of highlighting these studies is to demonstrate the potent activity of ginger extract and antioxidant compounds that can come from dried ground ginger. Research is still ongoing to find natural alternatives to cancer treatment that can be widely used for clinical use.

How to Use Ginger When Cooking

There are many ways to use ginger in your cooking to get its antioxidant benefits. The good news is that fresh ginger or dried ginger in meals and drinks will help boost your health.

Here are some helpful tips on how to incorporate more ginger into your diet:

Make ginger tea by chopping or grating a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root and putting in a cup of boiling water. Cover the cup and leave to infuse for 2-6 minutes. Drink the refreshing cup of ginger tea daily to boost your immune system.

Try using ground dried ginger to make a powerful antioxidant tea. Put 1/2 tsp. dried ginger in a cup and fill with boiling water. Cover the cup and let it sit for a few minutes. You can add some lemon or honey.

Take dried ginger supplements to help with pain relief. One study into the effects of taking ginger supplements daily found that it eased exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%.9 Before taking any supplements, you need to consult with your doctor as some people should avoid consuming ginger or limit its consumption.

Slice up fresh ginger and use it in stir-fries, soups, and sauces to give a bit of a “kick” to your food and boost your health at the same time. Add it towards the end of the cooking so that less gingerol is lost in the cooking process but that it heats up enough to release antioxidants.

Make a delicious anti-inflammatory smoothie by adding fresh or dried ginger.

Precautions When Using Ginger in Your Diet

Although ginger is an amazing herb with many health benefits, some people should exercise care if they want to increase their daily intake of ginger. The following precautions are from the University of Maryland Medical Center:10

  • Children under the age of 2 shouldn’t consume ginger.
  • Don’t consume more than 4 g of ginger per day.
  • Pregnant women can take up to 1 g of ginger daily.
  • Ginger can cause mild heartburn, diarrhea, and burping.
  • Ginger thins the blood. If you are taking blood-thinning medications, you should speak to your doctor before increasing your daily intake of ginger.
  • If you are planning to have surgery, you should tell your doctor if you take ginger regularly.
  • You can find more information about ginger precautions in my article “Ginger Should Be Avoided By These People”.

There are many wonderful uses for ginger and it is generally safe to use. Ginger is full of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties which have many uses in natural home remedies and cooking.

Read my other related articles:
1. How Cooking and Heat Affect Turmeric
2. How Ginger Destroys Cancer Better Than Chemo
3. How to Make Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief Turmeric Ginger Tea
4. Super Anti Inflammatory Beet And Ginger Juice

Article Sources

Healthy and Natural World