It has a bold taste that titillates your taste buds. Ginger is a flavorful spice used in Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Indian dishes. In western countries, people enjoy its flavor in sweet treats like gingerbread cookies – but ginger adds more than just flavor to foods. It’s an effective treatment for nausea, motions sickness and morning sickness and small studies show it has anti-inflammatory benefits.
In one small study, ginger was effective as ibuprofen for relieving arthritis pain. Another study showed it helps to reduce muscle soreness after exercise, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Now new research shows this common spice may be helpful for weight loss. Read on and discover more about the health benefits of ginger.
Ginger and Weight Loss
Orlistat is a medication approved by the FDA for weight loss in people who are obese. It works by blocking the absorption of fat from the intestinal tract so fewer calories are absorbed with a meal. Although effective for weight loss, most people have problems dealing with the gastrointestinal side effects consisting of such unpleasant symptoms as bloating, flatulence, oily stools, and tummy discomfort. No wonder so many people stop it before seeing benefits. Is there a better way?
Research carried out in Egypt and published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences showed ginger has the potential to boost weight loss without the unpleasant side effects of orlistat. Researchers gave rats a standard dose of orlistat or supplemented their diet with 5% ginger powder.
After a month on these regimens, both groups of rats lost similar amounts of weight but the ginger group enjoyed some additional benefits. Unlike orlistat, ginger didn’t hamper the activity of enzymes produced by the pancreas and bile produced by the liver that helps with fat absorption. Interference with these enzymes is responsible for many of the side effects of orlistat including the bloating and oily stools. Ginger had another benefit too. It raised HDL-cholesterol, the “good” kind that’s linked with a lower risk for heart disease. Ginger – good for your heart and good for your waistline.
Of course, this study involved rats, not humans. On the other hand, a study published in the journal Metabolism involving humans showed subjects who drank a ginger beverage made of 2 grams of ginger powder dissolved in hot water experienced less hunger. Even better, it had metabolism-boosting benefits. Sounds like a winning combination if you’re trying to lose weight!
Other Spices That Boost Weight Loss
Ginger isn’t the only spice that makes it easier to control your weight. Capsaicins in cayenne pepper has been recognized for their metabolism-boosting benefits, not to mention their fiery hotness that naturally curbs the appetite. Another player in the weight loss arena is turmeric. One study found that curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, makes it harder for new fat tissue to form by blocking the growth of blood vessels into it. Tumeric is one of the ingredients in the spice curry that give Indian and Thai dishes their kick.
The spice cinnamon that most people have in their cabinet boosts insulin sensitivity and slows digestion, which can work in your favor when it comes to controlling your weight. How can you take advantage of this? Add a little cinnamon to your coffee or cereal to help tame the blood sugar response that occurs after a meal. Small studies even suggest that garlic has thermogenic and appetite suppressive effects. Just don’t use that as an excuse to eat lots of pasta.
The Bottom Line?
Adding ginger and other spices to your diet is a natural way to curb your appetite, subtly boost your metabolism and give you an advantage when it comes to controlling your weight. Plus, spices add flavor to foods so you can enjoy healthy foods like vegetables without dousing them in butter or oil.
How can you get the benefits? Start the morning with cinnamon in your oatmeal and coffee and enjoy more Thai and Indian food seasoned with ginger and turmeric. Sprinkle spices into soups and stews and directly onto vegetables before eating them. Enjoy a cup of ginger tea in place of coffee and add fresh ginger to stir-fries and to your morning smoothie. You can even add small chunks of fresh ginger to hot oatmeal along with a sprinkle of cinnamon and turmeric. It’s easy to find ways to add garlic to your diet, fresh or powdered, especially if you love Italian food.
Look for ways to add more of these spices to your diet. They have natural anti-inflammatory properties just like fruits and vegetables. Make them a part of your diet and enjoy the health benefits these spices have to offer.
European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. 17: 75-83. 2013.
Arch Iran Med 2005;8:267-71.
Metabolism. 2012 Oct;61(10):1347-52.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. “Ginger”