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Adlen Robinson: For health benefits, it's hard to beat ginger

I am old enough to remember a time when finding fresh ginger at the grocery store was not always easy. Thankfully now you can find it at pretty much every grocery store.

You probably think of using ginger when you make Asian or Indian dishes. Sure, it adds great flavor and a gingery “kick,” but you might not realize just how healthy for you this knobby-shaped stem is.

People have been using ginger for thousands of years. Ginger is a flowering plant, and we eat the stem part that grows underground. It is from the family “zingiberceae” and is native to the tropical rainforest in South Asia. The flesh of ginger can be yellow, white or red, but we usually find the yellow kind in our stores. The brownish skin can easily be peeled or scraped off.

Sometimes you slice ginger to flavor a broth. Other times you grate it and use directly in a sauce, marinade and stir-fry. You can also slice it and make a tea with it by pouring boiling water on the slices and letting them steep. You can drink the tea hot or over ice. Add some lemon slices and fresh mint for an even healthier and healing beverage.

Did you know fresh ginger can ease nausea? Studies have shown that ginger is equally as effective as those over-the-counter medications to help with nausea. Sailors often take ginger tablets to help with motion sickness.

Some studies show ginger may help protect against diabetes, as well as help lower bad cholesterol levels.

In addition, some studies show ginger is just as effective as antibiotics when it comes to treating staph infections! Now that is impressive.

If you suffer from heartburn or ulcers, studies show that ginger can relax the lining in your gut and help move food through your system, especially if you have chronic indigestion.

If you have muscle pain, ginger may help relieve that as well. Some studies even suggest ginger helps promote healthy cognitive function. Studies also show ginger acts as a natural expectorant — if you have mucus in your lungs, ginger helps break it up so you can cough it up.

Lastly, when it comes to the benefits of consuming ginger, studies show it can boost your body’s ability to burn fat. Woohoo!

So, besides making tea with fresh ginger, are you wondering how you can incorporate more fresh ginger into your diet? Well, be sure to check out my food column this Friday when I will feature recipes and tips for getting more ginger into your life.