Although I’m a creature of habit in many ways, when it comes to working out, I love trying new things. Whether it’s giving a pilates class a go or just incorporating a new exercise into my regular routine, switching things up can make a major difference for my muscles. If you just went ice skating for the first time since you were a kid, you may suddenly be feeling pain in parts of your body you didn’t even know existed. Reach for a slice of festive gingerbread, because the benefits of ginger can help keep you from having to move your limbs gingerly after a workout (pun intended).
In fact, the effects of the spice are so powerful that the Arthritis Foundation actually suggests taking ginger as a supplement to support joint health. “Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant activities, as well as a small amount of analgesic property,” Roberta Lee, MD, vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center, told the organization. In other words, it can help with the pain and inflammation that can come from straining your muscles, whether it’s a result of ice skating, or simply being on your feet too long in the kitchen while you were whipping up your holiday spread.
So if you find yourself hobbling around after a long, busy day, adding a little extra ginger to your food could help your muscles recover. A study published in The Journal of Pain, the official journal of the American Pain Society, tested the effects of taking either raw ginger or heat-treated ginger over a period of 11 days, and found that consuming either form of the spice on a regular basis is linked to reduced muscle pain caused by exercise. Sounds like an excuse to sprinkle a little of the stuff into your morning oatmeal, if you ask me.
But this mighty root is also perfect for this time of year for another reason. Start adding ginger to fresh juices, and you may fare better during the horrors of flu season. "Ginger has powerful antibacterial effects and may be useful for relieving cold and flu symptoms," Christy Brissette, MS, RD, of 80 Twenty Nutrition, tells Elite Daily. This might explain why honey, lemon, and ginger tea are so popular for soothing a sore throat or battling a nasty cold.
When it comes to choosing how you’ll get in a hearty dose of ginger, it’s important to recognize that powdered forms of ginger are more concentrated than the fresh stuff is, says Shauna McQueen, MS, RD, a nutrition curriculum developer at Integrative Nutrition. You’ll want to use a full tablespoon of raw grated ginger to get the equivalent of 1/4-teaspoon of the powdered spice, she explains — but luckily, as long as you keep these measurements in mind, the nutritional effects will probably be similar no matter which form you choose. "Many may find powdered the more convenient option," McQueen tells Elite Daily, "but from a culinary standpoint, fresh ginger gives foods a brighter flavor. Both options are nutritious."
In addition to sipping on ginger tea or using the spice to make holiday cookies, there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into your heartier everyday meals. Lots of curry recipes call for a healthy dose of ginger, and this simple ginger curry recipe from Bon Appétit is tasty and easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
Whatever tasty treat you choose to make, you’ll be getting plenty of benefits for your whole body in the flavorful kick of every bite.
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