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Ginger is part of the crops called the root crops. It’s botanical name is Zingiber officinale and it is popularly called “Atale” among the Yoruba People . Ginger is a perennial root crop which originated in the South Eastern Asia from which its distribution to different parts of the world commenced. The top producers of ginger are Africa. Nigeria, one of the countries in Africa producing ginger crop is also one of the leading exporters of the crop. The crop can take different shapes , the internal surface may have different colouration (yellow, red or white), depending on the variations. The crop is largely produced in the Northern part of Nigeria ,mostly in Kaduna and in other states such as Gombe, Benue, Bauchi, and Nassarawa, from which it is then distributed and made available to other parts of the country.
The crop can be processed and packaged in different forms – powdered, dry or raw form after which is made available to markets. Ginger is known for its scent, oil and resin content and a well-known spice that is used by many in food preparation. This crop is used and applied in various forms, whether in processed forms as ginger biscuits, ginger tea or in its therapeutic uses. Research has it that about 30% to 40% of the Nigerian population consumes ginger in different forms
What makes ginger important to our health? What benefits can be obtained from it? It is very vital that these questions are answered so as not to follow the crowed just because it is said that “the crop is good”, but knowing what it does and the benefits it offers.
- Rich in Gingerol
The major constituents that make up a large percentage of ginger contents is a bioactive compound called “Gingerol”. This compound is very vital and plays a pivotal role in the medicinal features displayed by ginger. It may function as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The anti-inflammatory effect works by reducing or preventing the production of uric acid, whose accumulation leads to diseases such as gouts and arthritis. Meanwhile, the antioxidant effect helps in mopping free radicals from the body thereby reducing oxidative stress (read more about stress here) and improving the overall health.
- Treatment of Nausea and Morning Sickness
Ginger has been known from ages to be effective in the treatment of nausea and morning sickness among pregnant women. But, it is highly recommended that pregnant women should consult with their doctors before its use, even though it is considered safe. This is because, excess of it for pregnant women can result to miscarriage (read more about miscarriage here), and hence it is better to get appropriate consultation from medical doctors.
- Reduces Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain also known as dysmenorrhea (read about menstruation here) is the pain experienced by women during their menstrual cycle. Ginger has been found out to be very useful in the treatment of pain even if it is menstrual pain. According to a research study, it was discovered that taking about 1g of powdered ginger in a day for the first 3 days of the monthly menstrual cycle(read on how to calculate menstrual cycle here) can effectively reduce the pain of menstruation the way pain killer drugs does and even better.
- Reduce Blood Cholesterol Levels
There are different types of mechanism for the transport of lipids (or fats) in the body. However, the deposition and accumulation of fats on blood vessels which narrows the vessels commonly lead to variety of heart diseases especially high blood pressure. The type of transport vessel responsible for this is known as the Low Density Lipoproteins (or LDL for short) and has been termed the “bad cholesterol” due to its association with high blood pressure as well as obesity. According to research study from “Pubmed” in 2008, it was found out that taking about 3g of powdered ginger can lead to a significant reduction in the cholesterol, thereby, reducing the risk of obesity and high blood pressure.
- Rich in Antioxidants
Oxidative stress, which is as a result of free radicals in the body can lead to different forms of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s diseases(read about mental illness here), other age related memory loss diseases and acceleration of the aging process. Ginger is rich in antioxidants and bioactive compound that can prevent the formation of free radicals thereby reducing the risk of degenerative diseases and improve cognitive memory.
- Treatment for Cold and Flu
Cold and flu are very common in the environment (read on common diseases here) and has become a necessary evil that seems to be taunting a large percentage of the population. Nevertheless, according to a study in University of Maryland Medical Center States, it was found out that in order to treat cold and flu (read more about common cold here) in adults, two tablespoonfuls of freshly peeled or sliced ginger root in hot water can be used 2 to 3 times in a day.
- Treatment for Cough
Respiratory impairments due to cough or tightening of the air sacs or other parts of the respiratory system may be loosened or treated by the use of ginger. Ginger helps in expanding and relaxing the lungs for proper air flow, also in loosening of the phlegm. Therefore, it serves as a natural expectorant that eliminate mucus, thus, boosting the ease of breathing.
- Aids Digestion
Ginger helps in digestion of food as well as prevention of constipation and stomach discomfort. It also helps in food assimilation and reduces inflammation as well as other forms of stomach ache.
- Improve Eyesight and Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Ginger contains “flavonols and flavonoids” which are helpful in improving eyesight. This crop also has some bioactive compounds that prevent cancer growth and development. They are also used as prescription medicines in patients suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
Ginger is a very good root crop and spice which has a positive effect on the overall health of a person. It is cheap and available in markets also packaged in different forms. For those that may not be able to consume it raw, it can be added to food as spice. Stay healthy!!!
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