Ginger is a popular spice used in many cuisines around the world. It comes from the root of the ginger plant, which is peeled before being used for cooking. Some people choose to peel ginger before using it, while others like to keep the skin on. But is ginger peel actually good for you? Or is it better to remove it?
The peel or skin of ginger contains beneficial compounds that may provide health benefits. However, some concerns have been raised over pesticide residues in ginger peel. This article reviews the evidence on ginger peel to help you decide whether to eat it or remove it.
Nutrients in Ginger Peel
Ginger peel contains a variety of nutrients and plant compounds that may be beneficial for health.
Ginger peel is a good source of fiber, providing about 5–10% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) in a one-tablespoon (6-gram) serving. Fiber supports digestive health and may reduce blood sugar spikes.
Vitamins and Minerals
Ginger peel provides small amounts of several vitamins and minerals. One tablespoon (6 grams) provides:
- Vitamin C: 1% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 2% of the RDI
- Iron: 2% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 1% of the RDI
Ginger peel contains plant compounds that may be responsible for some of ginger’s health benefits:
- Gingerols: Have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Shogaols: Formed when gingerols are heated. Also have antioxidant properties.
- Zingerone: Formed as ginger is dried or stored for long periods. May have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Research shows that many of ginger’s health benefits are associated with its plant compound content, which is highly concentrated in the peel.
Potential Health Benefits
Here are some of the potential health benefits associated with the compounds in ginger peel.
Ginger peel is rich in antioxidants. Test-tube and animal studies show that gingerols and shogaols have powerful antioxidant capacities and may help prevent oxidative stress in your cells.
Human studies indicate that ginger supplements containing these compounds can increase antioxidant levels in the body.
Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous adverse health effects. Research shows ginger peel contains anti-inflammatory compounds.
Test-tube studies demonstrate that gingerols, shogaols, and zingerone inhibit inflammatory responses in cells. Animal studies also report reductions in inflammatory markers after ginger intake.
What’s more, human studies have found beneficial effects. Consuming ginger supplements for 3 months significantly lowered inflammatory markers in people at risk for colorectal cancer.
May Aid Blood Sugar Control
The fiber and antioxidants in ginger peel may benefit blood sugar control, though the evidence is limited.
Fiber slows carb digestion and absorption, resulting in a slower rise in blood sugar after meals. Meanwhile, antioxidants may protect cells from high sugar levels.
One human study showed that taking 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar levels by 12% over 12 weeks.
Yet, other human studies using ginger supplements have failed to find significant effects on blood sugar.
May Support Digestion
Ginger peel is a good source of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system healthy.
It also contains compounds like gingerols linked to reduced nausea, faster stomach emptying, and other benefits.
Evidence from human research is limited. One study in sailors prone to motion sickness showed that 1 gram of ginger powder reduced symptoms of nausea and cold sweating.
The fiber and antioxidant content may also reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.
Contains Cancer-Fighting Compounds
Test-tube and animal studies reveal antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects from ginger peel compounds.
In human studies, taking ginger supplements shows potential to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. One study associated a 28% lower risk of this type of cancer with a high intake of ginger.
Overall, research specifically on ginger peel is limited. More studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Downsides to Eating Ginger Peel
Some people avoid eating ginger peel due to concerns over pesticide residues.
Ginger roots are often covered in a thin peel that’s especially prone to pesticide accumulation when ginger is conventionally grown.
Peeling ginger before use may reduce your exposure to pesticides.
However, keep in mind that pesticide residues allowed on ginger are still very low.
One study found that peeling ginger reduced the pesticide content by 23–53%.
If you’re concerned, choosing organic ginger or growing your own may be the best solution. That said, don’t avoid ginger peel entirely without first weighing the potential risks and benefits.
How to Use Ginger Peel
Here are some ways to use ginger peel:
Add 3–5 thin slices of unpeeled ginger root per cup (237 ml) of hot water and steep for 5–10 minutes to make ginger tea. The peel will impart a stronger flavor.
Blend It Into a Smoothie
Add a 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) knob of unpeeled ginger to your favorite smoothie recipe and blend.
Run unpeeled ginger through a juicer. Cut into 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) pieces before juicing if needed. Mix with carrot, lemon, and apple juice for a zesty beverage.
Use a grater to finely grate unpeeled ginger before adding it to stir-fries, salad dressings, marinades, and baked goods. Be sure to grate over a bowl to catch the juices.
Slice unpeeled ginger and pickle it in vinegar. Add sliced ginger and vinegar to a jar and refrigerate for 1 week, enjoying it as a tangy, flavored topping for meals.
Slice unpeeled ginger 1/8–1/4 inch (0.3–0.6 cm) thick. Arrange on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 115°F (46°C) until crunchy, 10–12 hours. Enjoy on its own or with meals.
Dehydrate slices of ginger as above. Place in a blender or food processor and process into a fine powder to use for baking, smoothies, and soups.
Should You Peel Ginger?
Given its content of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, ginger peel may be worth eating.
Peeling it does reduce the pesticide content but also removes nutrients.
However, ginger’s health benefits come from its plant compounds, which are most concentrated near the skin. Thus, peeling ginger may remove some of its beneficial properties.
If you’re concerned about pesticides, using organic ginger is a good alternative to peeling non-organic ginger. The easiest solution is to purchase organic ginger and consume it peel and all.
Here is a table summarizing the potential benefits and downsides to eating ginger peel:
|Potential Benefits||Potential Downsides|
The Bottom Line
Ginger peel contains fiber, nutrients, and beneficial plant compounds that may provide health benefits. However, pesticide residues are a concern.
If you use organic ginger, eating the peel provides the maximum nutrition. If using conventionally grown ginger, peeling may reduce pesticide content but also remove nutrients.
Overall, ginger peel is nutritious and likely safe to eat in moderation, though more studies are needed on ginger peel specifically.
Choose organic when possible and enjoy ginger peel to take advantage of its full nutrient content.