Ginger is a staple in cuisines around the world not only for its unique, spicy flavor that complements sweet and savory dishes alike but because of its impressive array of health benefits.
“The ginger plant is native to Southeast Asia with therapeutic and medicinal use dating back thousands of years, and ginger is a natural root said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Maggie Michalczyk, RD. It’s not just something for cooking either—you can reap the benefits while sipping on ginger water or tea for an extra hydration boost. Here’s what you need to know about the simple (but potent) drink.
What are the benefits of ginger water?
The benefits of ginger water are largely derived from ginger itself. Ginger is filled with beneficial compounds that can help fight inflammation, combat nausea, and potentially even reduce pain, among many other benefits. “Although more research is needed to better understand the connection between ginger and improved health, there is extensive anecdotal evidence to support its use,” Michalczyk says. Here are a few benefits to note, specifically when consumed in ginger water form.
Want to learn more about ginger? Here’s the lowdown from a top RD:
1. It’s hydrating
Ginger water encourages increased water consumption—important since proper hydration is key for nearly all of your body’s functioning, from digestion to preventing headaches. “Many people struggle to drink enough water, so adding a herbal twist is one way to enhance the taste and increase overall hydration,” Michalczyk says.
2. It can fight inflammation
Like ginger itself, ginger water may help combat inflammation. “Gingerol, the main bioactive compound in ginger, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to reduce oxidative stress in the body,” Michalczyk says. Since this compound is still retained when creating ginger water, you’ll be able to reap those benefits (although they’re less potent since the ginger is diluted with water).
3. It could help fight nausea and indigestion
Although more clinical studies are needed, ginger is commonly used to ease nausea and indigestion, Michalczyk explains. That’s why people reach for ginger candies if they feel nauseated, or the old myth of ginger ale as being a magical ailment for an untamed stomach or indigestion.
4. It might help support healthy blood sugar levels
“Ginger water may help control fasting blood sugar levels and reduce HbA1c [a form of hemoglobin used to measure long-term blood sugar levels], for those with type 2 diabetes,” Michalczyk says, citing the results of a small 2015 study on ginger. More research is needed to strengthen these results, seeing as the sample size was quite small (41 participants), but there’s still some promise for its effects long-term on managing blood sugar and aiding in those with metabolic disorders.
Are there any downsides or risks to drinking ginger water?
Reported side effects from ginger are rare—so feel free to enjoy it as you like, within moderation. “Consuming more than four grams per day may cause heartburn, gas, upset stomach, or burning sensation in the mouth,” Michalczyk says, but that’s a lot anyway. Aversion to ginger water often stems from its strong taste rather than any side effects, so it’s a matter of whether you enjoy the taste of ginger or not. That said, you should discuss taking ginger with your doctor if you are on any medications, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, to ensure that it doesn’t interact with existing conditions you have.
How do you make ginger water?
Thankfully, just like ginger tea, it’s easy to DIY this at home. All you need are…well, ginger and water. You can add a half-teaspoon of honey to lighten the strong flavor of ginger, Michalczyk says.
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
4 cups of water
1/2 tsp. honey (optional)
Lemon slices (optional)
1. Boil four cups of water in a large pot or kettle.
2. Once water is boiling, add grated ginger. Remove from heat and let the ginger steep for five to 10 minutes.
3. Place a sieve or cheesecloth over a glass, and pour the water through it to remove the pieces of ginger. Add honey or lemon, if using.
4. Enjoy hot or place in the refrigerator and drink cold.
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