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Eating Right for your HEART

Eating Right for Your Heart
The foods you eat directly impact your cardiovascular health. Improving your diet can help you manage current health conditions, such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, and can also help prevent future health problems.

What is a heart-healthy diet?
What’s the difference between healthy fat and unhealthy fat?
Why are saturated fats so bad for me?
Why are trans fats so bad for me?
How much healthy fat should I have in my diet?
How much sodium, or salt, should I have in my diet?
How can I decrease the amount of sodium in my diet?
Why is sugar bad for my heart?
Is the natural sugar in fruit healthy?
What effect does alcohol have on my heart?
How much fiber should I have in my diet?
How can I increase the amount of fiber in my diet?
What is a heart-healthy diet?
A heart-healthy diet is:

High in omega-3 fats, found in many fishes, especially salmon
High in fiber
High in fruits and in green, red and orange vegetables
Low in saturated fats and trans fats
Low in sodium
Low in sugar
Low in cholesterol
Low in alcohol or alcohol-free
Calorie-balanced to support a healthy weight
What’s the difference between healthy fat and unhealthy fat?
Saturated and trans fats can be especially harmful to your heart and arteries. A heart-healthy diet is low in these harmful fats but includes moderate amounts of healthy fats. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats, are good for your heart.

When it comes to your weight, all fats are equally high in calories. When it comes to your heart, some fats are bad and some are good.

Why are saturated fats so bad for me?
Saturated fats are unhealthy primarily because they raise blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad” cholesterol. No more than 7 percent of your calories each day should come from saturated fats. For a person eating 2,000 calories per day, that’s 16 grams of saturated fat, the equivalent of less than 3 ounces of cheese.

To decrease your saturated fat intake, cut down on meat, cheese, butter and cream. Switch to more plant-based fats instead. For example, add guacamole instead of cheese to your tacos. Spread peanut butter especially natural peanut butter instead of butter on your toast. Saut vegetables in a teaspoon of oil instead of a pat of butter.

Why are trans fats so bad for me?
Trans fats, commonly found in deep fried foods or foods made with partially hydrogenated oils, are especially harmful because they raise LDL cholesterol and also decrease the “good cholesterol,” high-density lipoprotein (HDL). There is no recommended level of trans fat because any amount can be harmful.

Fortunately, nutrition facts labels on packaged foods are now required to list trans fat content. Read labels and avoid foods containing trans fats.

Unhealthy Fats

Saturated, Partially Hydrogenated and Trans Fats
Healthy Fats

Mono- and Polyunsaturated Fats
Solid at room temperature

Liquid at room temperature

Animal fats (saturated fats)

Meats, cream, butter, lard, cheese, chicken skin

Plant oils

Olive, safflower, canola, sunflower, soy, peanut oils

Tropical oils

Coconut and palm oils

Nuts and avocados

Partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)

Stick margarines, shortening, fast food, processed food

Omega-3 fats

Salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybean and canola oils

How much healthy fat should I have in my diet?
Research suggests that a heart-healthy diet can provide up to 35 percent of its calories from fat, as long as the fats are mostly mono- and polyunsaturated. For a diet of 2,000 calories, that’s a maximum of 78 grams of fat.

Unsaturated fats mostly come from plant sources, as indicated on the table above. One exception is the increasingly famous omega-3 fat, which is found in highest concentrations in oily fish, such as salmon.

Omega-3 fat, in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), is being studied to find out exactly how it benefits health. So far, evidence is strongest for omega-3 fat’s ability to lower blood pressure and decrease blood levels of triglycerides. At the UCSF Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center, we recommend eating fish frequently at least two times per week.

For non-fish eaters, a fish oil supplement may be appropriate. Up to three grams per day of combined EPA and DHA is probably safe for most people, but, as with all supplements, be sure to check with your doctor before you start taking it. We also recommend visiting the Environmental Defense Fund website, which rates the safety of many fish oil supplement brands.

Eat fatty fish at least twice a week. If you don’t eat fish, consider adding a fish oil supplement providing up to three grams daily of combined EPA and DHA. Check with your doctor first and investigate the quality of the supplement you plan to take.
Also include walnuts and ground flaxseeds, which are good vegetarian sources of omega-3 fat, in your diet as often as possible.
Remember, all fats are high in calories, so if weight loss is your goal, don’t go “hog wild” even with healthy foods, such as salmon and walnuts. A drizzle of oil on your salad, a few nuts on your oatmeal, or a small fillet of fatty fish topped with a spoonful of diced avocado is plenty for most people.

In addition to the dietary fat guidelines above, we recommend you limit cholesterol intake. Cholesterol is most concentrated in meats, egg yolks, organ meats, shrimp and squid, but it is present in all animal products. A reasonable serving of lean meat is the same size as the palm of your hand. If you have a high risk of heart attack or stroke, limit these cholesterol-rich foods to once a week.

How much sodium, or salt, should I have in my diet?
Cutting down on sodium is one of the best things you can do for your heart. The average American eats about 4,000 milligrams of sodium per day. That’s twice the recommended amount.

People vary in sensitivity to sodium, but in general, decreasing sodium intake can help people with hypertension by decreasing their blood pressure significantly. It can also prevent or delay the high blood pressure that typically appears in people with normal blood pressure as they age.

Aim to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Some people, including African-Americans, middle-aged and older adults, and people with high blood pressure, should aim for less than 1,500 milligrams per day. That’s equivalent to a mere 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of table salt.

How can I decrease the amount of sodium in my diet?
Avoid the salt shaker and salty condiments like sauces, pickles, relish, capers and olives.
Watch out for the main sodium culprits packaged and processed foods. Eat foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “light in sodium.” When possible, choose foods that provide 5 percent or less of the daily value of sodium per serving.
Canned soups, processed meats (frankfurters, sausage, pepperoni, deli turkey or ham), crackers, chips, pretzels, frozen meals and canned tomato juice are especially high in sodium. Avoid these foods and choose fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat and nonfat milk and yogurt instead.
Restaurant food is usually high in sodium. Eat out less and cook at home more often, seasoning foods with fresh or dried herbs, garlic, ginger, citrus juices, salt substitute (potassium chloride), pepper or vinegar instead of salt. If you must add salt, do so after the food is cooked rather than while cooking, to maximize its impact on your taste buds.
Why is sugar bad for my heart?
Sugar is a general term used to describe simple carbohydrates (mono- and disaccharides) that are either naturally occurring or added to foods during processing or at the table. Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) are commonly referred to as starches, and these are broken down into sugar in the body during the digestive process.

Common table sugar white, granulated sugar is sucrose. It is made up of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose, the sugar in fruit.

Sugar is a threat to heart health for a few reasons. First, sugar raises blood glucose and stimulates insulin production. This is not a problem for people with normal metabolism, but is troublesome for those with pre-diabetes, diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Second, high-sugar foods are often high in calories and can lead to overeating and weight gain. Third, diets high in simple sugars can increase blood levels of triglycerides.

Is the natural sugar in fruit healthy?
A heart-healthy diet does include some carbohydrates, and even a small amount of sugar in the right form and in limited amounts.

Naturally occurring sugars are more healthful than added sugars. A heart-healthy diet includes fruit, vegetables, grains and yogurt and milk for some all of which contain naturally occurring sugars. Because these foods provide important vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, the body’s main fuel source, they should be a regular part of the diet.

Added sugars, however, are in many of the processed foods we eat. The biggest source of added sugar for Americans is soft drinks, but fruit drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, pastries, candy, jams and jellies, syrup, and many ready-to-eat cereals are also high in added sugar. Read the labels. These foods are often low in nutrients and should be included in very limited amounts or avoided in a heart-healthy diet.

The bottom line: Cut down on sweets. Avoid sugary beverages. Include healthy carbohydrates from fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains, and low- or nonfat milk and yogurt in moderate amounts, eaten throughout the day rather than all at once. Talk to a dietitian for help figuring out how much carbohydrate is best for you.

What effect does alcohol have on my heart?
Too much alcohol is not good for your heart. Excessive alcohol intake can increase fats (triglycerides) in the blood, increase blood pressure and add extra calories that lead to weight gain.

In moderation, alcohol appears to have some beneficial effect on the heart. The possible antioxidant effect of red wine has been widely publicized, but its potentially beneficial substances can be obtained from other foods, such as grapes or red grape juice.

Alcohol may have an anti-clotting effect on the blood, reducing clot formation and reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Aspirin may help reduce blood clotting in a similar way. The best-known beneficial effect of alcohol is an increase in HDL, the “good” cholesterol. However, regular physical activity and weight loss are other effective ways to raise HDL cholesterol.

While studies on the potential mechanisms of alcohol on cardiovascular risk need further research, right now we do not recommend adding alcohol to your diet to achieve these potential benefits. If you already drink alcohol and have no reason to avoid it, such as alcoholism or family history of alcoholism, limit it to one serving per day for women and two servings per day for men. One serving is 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or one ounce of 100-proof spirits.

How much fiber should I have in my diet?
A high-fiber diet is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. In addition to its role in heart health, a high-fiber diet appears to reduce risk of developing diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber also slows digestion, which means high-fiber foods help you feel fuller, longer which may help you eat fewer calories and control your weight.

Dietary fiber is material from plant cells that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive tract. There are two important types of fiber: water-soluble and water insoluble. Each has different properties and characteristics. Both types of fiber are helpful in maintaining good digestion and providing a sense of fullness, which helps prevent overeating and weight gain.

Soluble fiber in particular decreases blood cholesterol. Fruits, vegetables, legumes (dry beans, lentils, peas), barley, oats and oat bran are good sources of soluble fiber.

Total dietary fiber intake should be at least 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements. Right now dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day. That’s about half the recommended amount.

How can I increase the amount of fiber in my diet?
Fruits and Vegetables
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Eat the peel whenever possible it’s easier than peeling or eating around it.
Have fresh fruit for dessert.
Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don’t have fiber.
Add chopped, dried fruits to your cookies, muffins, pancakes or breads before baking. Dried fruits have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh version. For example, one cup of grapes has 1 gram of fiber, but one cup of raisins has 7 grams. However, one cup of raisins or any other dried fruit has more calories than the fresh fruit variety.
Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal.
Grate carrots on salads.
Keep prepared carrot and celery sticks, cucumber rounds and other fresh vegetables for a quick, high-fiber snack.
Choose a side salad instead of fries with lunch.
Consider alternatives for routine meals eaten out. Choose restaurants with healthier choices such as vegetable side dishes, whole grain breads, fruits and salads. Fast food should not mean high-fat and low-fiber meals.
Try recipes that use more vegetables and fruit.
Legumes and Beans
Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Each one-half cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups.
Experiment with international dishes, such as Indian or Middle Eastern food, that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
Grains and Cereals
Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking.
Choose whole grain bread. Look on the label for breads with the highest amount of fiber per slice.
Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Keep whole-wheat crackers for an easy snack.
Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.

Our modern world is a difficult place to maintain a healthful balance. Ginger is, hands down, one of the most broadly therapeutic and familiar plant allies available to us to prevent and even reverse a wide range of ailments, with the science supporting its safety and efficacy one of the most robust.
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a powerful medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to keep mankind in balance. Rich in bioactive terpenes, ginger belongs to the same powerhouse plant family, Zingiberaceae, as turmeric and cardamom.

Ginger became prized by herbalists around the world during the days of the early spice trade, when it was first exported from India and Southern Asia into Europe. [1] Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda consider ginger to be warming to the system, thus stimulating to the digestive fire.

Traditional uses reflect this understanding of gingers powerful healing properties: its known for relieving nausea, aiding digestion, soothing cramps, and improving circulation. Ginger also possesses potent detoxifying properties, stimulating elimination via bowel release and perspiration.

If the benefits of ginger stopped there, it would be a miracle plant food worthy of daily consumption. But modern science has not only validated gingers traditional uses, it has put ginger into an elite superfood category where the lines between food and medicine become blurred.

Sure, ginger can keep your tummy happily humming along. But did you know it may also help prevent you from falling prey to some of the worst health conditions plaguing people today?

A Remedy for What Ails You
With nearly 3,000 years of documented use and almost as many scientific abstracts on gingers effectiveness, it can be difficult to narrow down gingers five most powerful health benefits.

One approach is to cross-reference gingers healing properties with the worst disease threats in our world today. The World Health Organization, whose stated mission is to combat diseases around the world, publishes annual statistics on the top ten causes of death, worldwide. [2] In 2017, there are five diseases on the list for which ginger has been shown to provide significant benefit:

Heart disease
Stroke
Lung cancer
Diabetes
Diarrheal diseases
Lets examine the most impactful scientific research that has been conducted on ginger in recent years, to see how ginger can be applied therapeutically and proactively to ward-off and treat disease.

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Heart Disease
Ginger helps the heart in a myriad of ways. Studies have verified gingers potent ability to lower blood pressure, also referred to as cardiodepressant activity.

Researchers have identified gingers significant intrinsic activity on smooth muscle of the heart, which was observed by researchers exploring gingers traditional uses for cardiopathy, high blood pressure, palpitations. and as a vasodilator to improve circulation. [3]

An eye-opening 2016 animal study demonstrated the powerful cardioprotective properties of ginger as it relates to damage already done to the heart, in this case by diabetes. Researchers unequivocally concluded that ginger extract significantly reduces heart structural abnormalities in diabetic rats. [4]

A 2017 cross-sectional study titled, Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults, examined whether daily ginger consumption as well as how much ginger impacted the symptoms of chronic diseases like hypertension and coronary heart disease, or CHD. Results showed that daily ginger consumption was associated with decreased risk for hypertension and CHD, with the probability for both illnesses decreasing when the amount of daily ginger intake increased. [5]

A September 2017 scientific review examined ginger and several other therapeutic herbs and spices for evidence of antioxidant activity, and impact on human health. Ginger and garlic were determined to have extensively therapeutic effectsespecially for cardiovascular diseases. Gingers anti-carcinogenic properties were also noted in this study. [6]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Stroke
Described as a brain attack, cerebral apoplexy, otherwise known as stroke, occurs when one or more areas of the brain are damaged due to oxygen deprivation. [7] The fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, gingers usefulness for stroke lies in its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In 2006, a human study was conducted on eighty-two adults suffering stroke-induced brain damage which brought on urination disorders due to flaccid or spastic bladder. Moxibustion treatment, a type of heat therapy where materials are warmed and placed on or near the skin, using ginger and salt was applied to the treatment group five times each week.

After three weeks, numerous factors improved for the treatment group which were not observed in the control group, including less frequent urination, less urgency to urinate, and decreased incontinence. Researchers concluded that ginger-salt-partitioned moxibustion is a safe and effective therapy for urination disorders post-stroke.

A study released in October 2016 examined one of the active constituents of ginger known as 6-Shogaol, an isolate known to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress and inflammation are closely associated with restricted blood supply, a primary factor of stroke, and can eventually result in brain cell death.

Conversely, substances that are antioxidant and reduce inflammation are potentially therapeutic for disorders of the brain and central nervous system. This studys aim was to evaluate if daily, oral doses of 6-shogaol exerts neuroprotective activity in mice.

After seven days, researchers observed that mice fed 6-shogaol demonstrated significantly reduced neurological deficit scores as well as a reduced mean infarct area, indicating a return of healthy blood flow to the brain. Improved behavioral deficits were also observed, and inflammatory markers in the brain were reduced. Researchers concluded that 6-shogaol can improve outcomes of stroke-induced brain damage, and has demonstrated benefit as a potential preventative of stroke. [8]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Cancer
With over 420 PubMed abstracts on gingers usefulness for cancer, science has clearly corroborated the chemoprotective properties of this amazing herbal medicine.

Some of the most promising studies include an October 2015 study exploring the potential to synthesize effective anticancer drugs from gingers active constituents. Once again, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of 6-shogaol were highlighted as presenting a promising opportunity to identify novel anticancer compounds originating from ginger. [9]

Another landmark study on gingers potential benefits for cancer sufferers found that ginger is 10,000 times stronger than the chemotherapy drug Taxol. This study determined that 6-shogaol was more effective than chemo at targeting the root cause of breast cancer malignancy, namely, the stem cells or mother cells that are responsible for spawning daughter cells that make-up the tumor colony.

The contrast in gingers effectiveness as compared to Taxol was staggering. Per the researchers: Taxoldid not show activity against the [cancer cells] even at 10,000-fold higher concentration compared to 6-shogaol. [10]

6-shogaol isnt the only bioactive constituent in ginger that cancer researchers are excited about. 6-Gingerol has also been reported to exert antitumor activities. A 2014 study of 6-gingerol and its effect on cancer cells, found that it was extensively metabolized by both human and animal cancer cells, where it had a cytotoxic effect, inhibiting cancer cell growth, and contributing to the death of cells.[11]

Further studies confirm that while these active elements in ginger are toxic to cancer cells, they have no negative effect on healthy cells, a far superior effect than toxic chemotherapy drugs. [12] Multiple studies on gingers antiemetic properties have found that ginger provides further therapeutic benefit to cancer patients by helping to ease the nausea often associated with traditional cancer treatments. [13], [14]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Diabetes
A great amount of focus has been paid to gingers ability to normalize digestive processes, such as soothing nausea and stimulating digestive fluids. With half-a-billion people at risk for Type-2 diabetes, a less well-known but vitally important superpower is gingers ability to regulate cholesterol and blood sugar.

A 2014 study on glycemic status, lipids, and inflammatory markers examined seventy, Type-2 diabetes patients, with half the group consuming 1600 mg ginger versus placebo group. Results showed that ginger significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, as compared with placebo group, and can be considered as an effective treatment for prevention of complications from diabetes. [15]

Another 2014 study sought to identify the effect of ginger supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in diabetes mellitus. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 88 diabetic participants were randomly assigned into ginger and placebo groups, powdered ginger was given three times per day in 1-gram capsules for eight weeks. The dramatic results showed that fasting blood sugar mean average of the ginger group decreased 10.5%, whereas the mean blood sugar of placebo group had an increase of 21%. [16]

Numerous studies support gingers anti-diabetic and lipid-lowering properties, including the seven studies on our database providing proof of its efficacy. Ginger delivers added benefits in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Studies like this one in 2012 show that regular consumption of dietary ginger helps protect against and improve systemic diabetic complications.

Ginger imparts a beneficial effect on the kidneys, an organ that is frequently damaged as a side-effect of uncontrolled diabetes. Researchers noted that a function of diabetes is to disturb homeostasis of metabolic enzymes regulated by the kidneys. This study demonstrated that extract of ginger could lower blood glucose levels, as well as improve activities of mitochondrial enzymes in diabetic rats, thus providing nephro-protective (kidney-protective) properties that have the potential to reverse diabetic-induced complications. [17]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Diarrheal Diseases
Diarrhea is typically an infection in the intestinal tract that causes three or more loose stools per day. Diarrheal diseases can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms, and are the second-leading cause of death in children under five. [18] If a positive aspect of this disease can be found, its that it is entirely preventable, and also highly treatable. Ginger is an exceptional herbal medicinal for the prevention and treatment of all types of diarrheal diseases.

Food poisoning is one of the most common causes of diarrhea, and bacterial contamination from fish and shellfish is one of the easiest ways to get food poisoning.

An October 2016 study isolated several bacterial strains common to fish and shellfish, and tested the efficacy of treatment with essential oil extracted from Zingiber officinalerhizomes. Researchers found that only a small amount of essential oil was needed to inhibit the growth of the selected bacteria, and that ginger oil can be used as a good natural preservative in fish food due to antioxidant and antibacterial activities. [19]

In diarrheal diseases, the bacteria itself is not what poses the threat to human life, but rather the toxins that are released by the bacterias metabolic processes. Zingerone, another potent compound in ginger, binds to these toxins so that they cannot interact with the gut, effectively preventing diarrhea and its associated risks.

Ginger can also come to the rescue when other drugs are introduced to the system. In 2016, researchers wanted a way to ameliorate the nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting that accompanied treatment with an anti-tuberculosis drug. Results showed that ginger had a soothing effect on these symptoms, and could be an effective adjutant when pharmaceutical drugs are not well-tolerated. [20]

Diarrheal diseases are extremely common in areas of the world plagued by contaminated drinking water. Bangladesh is one such area, and local researchers wanted to find out if certain traditional spices possessed antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Samples of drug-resistant Escherichia coli were isolated from the drinking water, and tested against isolates of lime juice, garlic, ginger, onion, coriander, and black pepper. While none of these isolates alone had a significant inhibitory effect, a combination of lime, garlic, and ginger suppressed all bacteria samples. Researchers concluded that these isolates might form an effective barrier against enteric pathogens and could be used for prevention of diarrheal diseases. [21]

While ginger is very safe, there are a few contraindications to be aware of. Rare cases of allergic reaction have been noted, and it can interact with many drugs, including heart medications, blood thinners, and diabetes medications. Ask your doctor or consult a naturopath if you would like to add ginger to your health regimen and are taking any of these medications.

The ameliorative potential of ginger is explored in depth in GreenMedInfos 145-pg research paper. There are over 2100 published studies on the medicinal properties of ginger in the scientific literature, and the Greenmedinfo.com database contains evidence of gingers value in over 170 different health conditions, with more than 50 beneficial physiological effects.

Even more: Ginger is proven to be more powerful at fighting migraines than one of the top-selling migraine drugs.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Our modern world is a difficult place to maintain a healthful balance. Ginger is, hands down, one of the most broadly therapeutic and familiar plant allies available to us to prevent and even reverse a wide range of ailments, with the science supporting its safety and efficacy one of the most robust.
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a powerful medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to keep mankind in balance. Rich in bioactive terpenes, ginger belongs to the same powerhouse plant family, Zingiberaceae, as turmeric and cardamom.

Ginger became prized by herbalists around the world during the days of the early spice trade, when it was first exported from India and Southern Asia into Europe. [1] Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda consider ginger to be warming to the system, thus stimulating to the digestive fire.

Traditional uses reflect this understanding of gingers powerful healing properties: its known for relieving nausea, aiding digestion, soothing cramps, and improving circulation. Ginger also possesses potent detoxifying properties, stimulating elimination via bowel release and perspiration.

If the benefits of ginger stopped there, it would be a miracle plant food worthy of daily consumption. But modern science has not only validated gingers traditional uses, it has put ginger into an elite superfood category where the lines between food and medicine become blurred.

Sure, ginger can keep your tummy happily humming along. But did you know it may also help prevent you from falling prey to some of the worst health conditions plaguing people today?

A Remedy for What Ails You
With nearly 3,000 years of documented use and almost as many scientific abstracts on gingers effectiveness, it can be difficult to narrow down gingers five most powerful health benefits.

One approach is to cross-reference gingers healing properties with the worst disease threats in our world today. The World Health Organization, whose stated mission is to combat diseases around the world, publishes annual statistics on the top ten causes of death, worldwide. [2] In 2017, there are five diseases on the list for which ginger has been shown to provide significant benefit:

Heart disease
Stroke
Lung cancer
Diabetes
Diarrheal diseases
Lets examine the most impactful scientific research that has been conducted on ginger in recent years, to see how ginger can be applied therapeutically and proactively to ward-off and treat disease.

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Heart Disease
Ginger helps the heart in a myriad of ways. Studies have verified gingers potent ability to lower blood pressure, also referred to as cardiodepressant activity.

Researchers have identified gingers significant intrinsic activity on smooth muscle of the heart, which was observed by researchers exploring gingers traditional uses for cardiopathy, high blood pressure, palpitations. and as a vasodilator to improve circulation. [3]

An eye-opening 2016 animal study demonstrated the powerful cardioprotective properties of ginger as it relates to damage already done to the heart, in this case by diabetes. Researchers unequivocally concluded that ginger extract significantly reduces heart structural abnormalities in diabetic rats. [4]

A 2017 cross-sectional study titled, Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults, examined whether daily ginger consumption as well as how much ginger impacted the symptoms of chronic diseases like hypertension and coronary heart disease, or CHD. Results showed that daily ginger consumption was associated with decreased risk for hypertension and CHD, with the probability for both illnesses decreasing when the amount of daily ginger intake increased. [5]

A September 2017 scientific review examined ginger and several other therapeutic herbs and spices for evidence of antioxidant activity, and impact on human health. Ginger and garlic were determined to have extensively therapeutic effectsespecially for cardiovascular diseases. Gingers anti-carcinogenic properties were also noted in this study. [6]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Stroke
Described as a brain attack, cerebral apoplexy, otherwise known as stroke, occurs when one or more areas of the brain are damaged due to oxygen deprivation. [7] The fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, gingers usefulness for stroke lies in its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In 2006, a human study was conducted on eighty-two adults suffering stroke-induced brain damage which brought on urination disorders due to flaccid or spastic bladder. Moxibustion treatment, a type of heat therapy where materials are warmed and placed on or near the skin, using ginger and salt was applied to the treatment group five times each week.

After three weeks, numerous factors improved for the treatment group which were not observed in the control group, including less frequent urination, less urgency to urinate, and decreased incontinence. Researchers concluded that ginger-salt-partitioned moxibustion is a safe and effective therapy for urination disorders post-stroke.

A study released in October 2016 examined one of the active constituents of ginger known as 6-Shogaol, an isolate known to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress and inflammation are closely associated with restricted blood supply, a primary factor of stroke, and can eventually result in brain cell death.

Conversely, substances that are antioxidant and reduce inflammation are potentially therapeutic for disorders of the brain and central nervous system. This studys aim was to evaluate if daily, oral doses of 6-shogaol exerts neuroprotective activity in mice.

After seven days, researchers observed that mice fed 6-shogaol demonstrated significantly reduced neurological deficit scores as well as a reduced mean infarct area, indicating a return of healthy blood flow to the brain. Improved behavioral deficits were also observed, and inflammatory markers in the brain were reduced. Researchers concluded that 6-shogaol can improve outcomes of stroke-induced brain damage, and has demonstrated benefit as a potential preventative of stroke. [8]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Cancer
With over 420 PubMed abstracts on gingers usefulness for cancer, science has clearly corroborated the chemoprotective properties of this amazing herbal medicine.

Some of the most promising studies include an October 2015 study exploring the potential to synthesize effective anticancer drugs from gingers active constituents. Once again, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of 6-shogaol were highlighted as presenting a promising opportunity to identify novel anticancer compounds originating from ginger. [9]

Another landmark study on gingers potential benefits for cancer sufferers found that ginger is 10,000 times stronger than the chemotherapy drug Taxol. This study determined that 6-shogaol was more effective than chemo at targeting the root cause of breast cancer malignancy, namely, the stem cells or mother cells that are responsible for spawning daughter cells that make-up the tumor colony.

The contrast in gingers effectiveness as compared to Taxol was staggering. Per the researchers: Taxoldid not show activity against the [cancer cells] even at 10,000-fold higher concentration compared to 6-shogaol. [10]

6-shogaol isnt the only bioactive constituent in ginger that cancer researchers are excited about. 6-Gingerol has also been reported to exert antitumor activities. A 2014 study of 6-gingerol and its effect on cancer cells, found that it was extensively metabolized by both human and animal cancer cells, where it had a cytotoxic effect, inhibiting cancer cell growth, and contributing to the death of cells.[11]

Further studies confirm that while these active elements in ginger are toxic to cancer cells, they have no negative effect on healthy cells, a far superior effect than toxic chemotherapy drugs. [12] Multiple studies on gingers antiemetic properties have found that ginger provides further therapeutic benefit to cancer patients by helping to ease the nausea often associated with traditional cancer treatments. [13], [14]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Diabetes
A great amount of focus has been paid to gingers ability to normalize digestive processes, such as soothing nausea and stimulating digestive fluids. With half-a-billion people at risk for Type-2 diabetes, a less well-known but vitally important superpower is gingers ability to regulate cholesterol and blood sugar.

A 2014 study on glycemic status, lipids, and inflammatory markers examined seventy, Type-2 diabetes patients, with half the group consuming 1600 mg ginger versus placebo group. Results showed that ginger significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, as compared with placebo group, and can be considered as an effective treatment for prevention of complications from diabetes. [15]

Another 2014 study sought to identify the effect of ginger supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in diabetes mellitus. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 88 diabetic participants were randomly assigned into ginger and placebo groups, powdered ginger was given three times per day in 1-gram capsules for eight weeks. The dramatic results showed that fasting blood sugar mean average of the ginger group decreased 10.5%, whereas the mean blood sugar of placebo group had an increase of 21%. [16]

Numerous studies support gingers anti-diabetic and lipid-lowering properties, including the seven studies on our database providing proof of its efficacy. Ginger delivers added benefits in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Studies like this one in 2012 show that regular consumption of dietary ginger helps protect against and improve systemic diabetic complications.

Ginger imparts a beneficial effect on the kidneys, an organ that is frequently damaged as a side-effect of uncontrolled diabetes. Researchers noted that a function of diabetes is to disturb homeostasis of metabolic enzymes regulated by the kidneys. This study demonstrated that extract of ginger could lower blood glucose levels, as well as improve activities of mitochondrial enzymes in diabetic rats, thus providing nephro-protective (kidney-protective) properties that have the potential to reverse diabetic-induced complications. [17]

Ginger: A Natural Treatment for Diarrheal Diseases
Diarrhea is typically an infection in the intestinal tract that causes three or more loose stools per day. Diarrheal diseases can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms, and are the second-leading cause of death in children under five. [18] If a positive aspect of this disease can be found, its that it is entirely preventable, and also highly treatable. Ginger is an exceptional herbal medicinal for the prevention and treatment of all types of diarrheal diseases.

Food poisoning is one of the most common causes of diarrhea, and bacterial contamination from fish and shellfish is one of the easiest ways to get food poisoning.

An October 2016 study isolated several bacterial strains common to fish and shellfish, and tested the efficacy of treatment with essential oil extracted from Zingiber officinalerhizomes. Researchers found that only a small amount of essential oil was needed to inhibit the growth of the selected bacteria, and that ginger oil can be used as a good natural preservative in fish food due to antioxidant and antibacterial activities. [19]

In diarrheal diseases, the bacteria itself is not what poses the threat to human life, but rather the toxins that are released by the bacterias metabolic processes. Zingerone, another potent compound in ginger, binds to these toxins so that they cannot interact with the gut, effectively preventing diarrhea and its associated risks.

Ginger can also come to the rescue when other drugs are introduced to the system. In 2016, researchers wanted a way to ameliorate the nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting that accompanied treatment with an anti-tuberculosis drug. Results showed that ginger had a soothing effect on these symptoms, and could be an effective adjutant when pharmaceutical drugs are not well-tolerated. [20]

Diarrheal diseases are extremely common in areas of the world plagued by contaminated drinking water. Bangladesh is one such area, and local researchers wanted to find out if certain traditional spices possessed antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Samples of drug-resistant Escherichia coli were isolated from the drinking water, and tested against isolates of lime juice, garlic, ginger, onion, coriander, and black pepper. While none of these isolates alone had a significant inhibitory effect, a combination of lime, garlic, and ginger suppressed all bacteria samples. Researchers concluded that these isolates might form an effective barrier against enteric pathogens and could be used for prevention of diarrheal diseases. [21]

While ginger is very safe, there are a few contraindications to be aware of. Rare cases of allergic reaction have been noted, and it can interact with many drugs, including heart medications, blood thinners, and diabetes medications. Ask your doctor or consult a naturopath if you would like to add ginger to your health regimen and are taking any of these medications.

The ameliorative potential of ginger is explored in depth in GreenMedInfos 145-pg research paper. There are over 2100 published studies on the medicinal properties of ginger in the scientific literature, and the Greenmedinfo.com database contains evidence of gingers value in over 170 different health conditions, with more than 50 beneficial physiological effects.

Even more: Ginger is proven to be more powerful at fighting migraines than one of the top-selling migraine drugs.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

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