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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Featured Health Food: Ginger

If you've never thought twice about ginger, it's about time you brought this little gem of a spice into your life. Ginger not only has a delightfully spicy flavor that works well with both sweet and savory dishes, but it has many health benefits that can alleviate symptoms of several ailments as well as properties that may ward off chronic diseases.

Ginger contains anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that may help to relieve arthritis and muscle aches and pains. It can help with the pain from when you've overdone it at the gym, when you're suffering from menstrual cramps, or when you're recovering from surgery or an injury.

Ginger can also help relieve nausea and upset stomach and can improve digestion. It can be useful to women suffering from morning sickness or travelers afflicted with motion sickness. It can also help ease your stomach after consuming a very large meal.

Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant and may provide relief from allergy symptoms by dilating constricted bronchial tubes. It can also help relieve the stuffiness from the common cold as well.

Lastly, in terms of chronic ailments such as heart disease and cancer, ginger may provide cardiovascular and cancer protection to keep you healthy.

So how does one reap the wonderful benefits of ginger? Ginger can be purchased fresh in the produce section of your local supermarket. It can be grated, sliced, minced, or shredded and added to stir fry, stew, soup, or sauce for an extra "zing." Ginger is also found ground in the spice section and can be added to many baked goods as well as savory dishes for a distintive heat. Sushi lovers will be familiar with pickled ginger served alongside sushi and sashimi--a hot and sweet delight that cleanses the palate.

My personal favorite ways to consume ginger include crystallized ginger (baby ginger dusted with cane sugar creating a sweet and spicy, addictive treat that tastes great alone, plunked in tea, or chopped into baked goods), stem ginger in syrup (the chunks of candied stem ginger are great for eating alone and jazzing up your cooking and baking, and the syrup is great in tea, over ice cream, or for glazing chicken, carrots, or nuts) and ginger tea (a soothing, spicy beverage).


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