Spice up your life this spring with a zest of ginger.

Ginger is one food additive that is sure to wake up your taste buds. While commonly thought of as a root, it is actually in the underground stem family, or rhizome. This spice is sure to give your beverage or meal a distinct flavor and your health a wide variety of benefits.                                                                 

Ginger is native to southeastern Asia but can be easily grown in other warm regions or the tropics. It can be cultivated all year, but the best time to plant it is in the winter or early spring. If you’re going to add it to your yard, give it plenty of room because it can grow several feet tall.

Ginger is commonly found in Asian dishes like stir-fries and dipping sauces, but it can be combined with many components. It can be minced, chopped or grated, added to glaze for meats, and roasted with vegetables. Its taste and texture will vary depending on when it was harvested. Early-harvest or young ginger (harvested after six months) is tender and sweet, while older, more mature ginger (harvested between 10 and 12 months) is more fibrous and spicy. The latter is usually all that’s available in American supermarkets, but young ginger can often be found in Asian markets. It’s easily identified by its thin, papery skin and pink-tinged tips. When shopping for ginger, look for a thin, smooth, unblemished skin.

In addition to its distinct flavor, ginger has been used for thousands of years for its health benefits. It was a priceless commodity during the Roman Empire and was traded extensively because of its perceived medicinal properties. Ginger is thought to be an anti-inflammatory, to aid in blood sugar regulation and to provide gastrointestinal relief. Some even use the spice to help with hair loss or stimulate hair growth. Its circulatory agents stimulate blood flow to the scalp, which triggers the hair follicles and spurs new growth.

Eating whole ginger and drinking fresh ginger juice are highly effective ways to curb stomach disorders. It helps with bloating, constipation and nausea, because it relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining and encourages the passage of food.

Furthermore, some studies suggest that ginger could naturally improve diabetes and enhance insulin sensitivity by suppressing sorbitol accumulation in human blood cells. It also contains dozens of the most potent inflammation fighting substances known: phytonutrients called gingerols. Because of this, many people use it to treat arthritis and as a natural painkiller.

Whether you’re looking to spice up a dish, promote hair growth, lower your risk for diabetes

or help with pain, ginger is a superfood that shouldn’t be overlooked. Use this spice to boost your dish and your quality of life.

Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:

Ginger stir-fry chicken

Ginger-berry energy balls

Watermelon orange ginger turmeric juice