Is ginger root skin good for you?

Ginger is a flowering plant that has been used for thousands of years as a spice and natural medicine. The rhizome (underground stem) of the ginger plant is commonly used as a seasoning in cooking and baking. Often, before being used, ginger is peeled to remove the thin tan skin that covers the rhizome. This ginger skin is usually discarded. However, some people choose to leave the skin on, as it contains beneficial nutrients and compounds.

Nutrients in ginger root skin

Ginger skin contains a small amount of nutrients, including:

  • Fiber: A diet high in fiber has many health benefits, including improved digestion and heart health.
  • Vitamins: Ginger skin contains small amounts of vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and more.
  • Minerals: It provides minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and iron.
  • Antioxidants: Ginger skin contains antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones. These compounds have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.

Although the nutrient content of ginger skin is relatively low compared to the flesh, eating the skin can still add small amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your diet.

Phytochemicals in ginger root skin

In addition to nutrients, ginger skin contains beneficial plant compounds, including:

  • Gingerols: The main bioactive compound. Linked to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, immune-boosting, and pain-relieving effects.
  • Shogaols: Formed when gingerols are heated. Also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Zingerones: Formed as ginger ages. Associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Paradols: Provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Research shows that many of ginger’s health benefits come from gingerols, which are most concentrated in the skin. Leaving the skin on provides more gingerols.

Potential health benefits

Here is a look at some of the potential health benefits of ginger root skin:

1. May reduce nausea

Ginger has long been used to help reduce nausea related to motion sickness, pregnancy, and chemotherapy. The gingerols in the skin are thought to contribute to ginger’s antinausea effects.

2. Contains antioxidants

Antioxidants help protect your cells against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants in ginger, including gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones, can help fight inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

3. May lower blood sugar

Animal and test-tube studies reveal that ginger extracts containing gingerols can help decrease blood sugar levels. Keeping the skin on provides more gingerols, so it may aid blood sugar control.

4. May reduce arthritis symptoms

Research shows that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce joint pain and swelling associated with arthritis. The antioxidant gingerols in the skin are thought to be particularly beneficial for reducing inflammation.

5. May support immune health

Ginger root skin contains antioxidants and compounds that may help boost your immune system and fight off infections. However, more research is needed.

6. May promote heart health

The antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and nutrients in ginger skin may help reduce risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol and blood pressure levels. But human research is limited.

7. Easy to incorporate into diet

Leaving the skin on sliced or grated ginger is an easy way to add extra nutrients and plant compounds to your meals and baked goods. The skin also provides added fiber.

Downsides of eating ginger root skin

While ginger skin is considered safe for most people, there are some downsides to be aware of:

  • Tough, fibrous texture: Ginger skin can be tough and fibrous. This may make it unpalatable for some people.
  • Pesticide residue: Ginger is on the “Dirty Dozen” list for high pesticide residues. The skin is more likely to harbor pesticide residue.
  • Germs: Ginger skin may harbor more germs compared to the peeled ginger flesh. Make sure to wash it before use.
  • Allergies: Allergies to ginger are very rare but have been reported.

While ginger skin is not harmful for most people, you can avoid it if you find it too fibrous or want to minimize pesticide exposure. Peeling ginger before use is still perfectly healthy.

How to incorporate ginger root skin into your diet

Here are some ways to add ginger root skin into your meals and recipes:

  • Add grated ginger with skin on to stir-fries, curries, and soups.
  • Juice ginger with skin on and add to smoothies or other juices.
  • Bake sliced ginger with skin on top of fish or chicken.
  • Infuse sliced ginger with skin into tea or water.
  • Make pickled ginger, leaving the skin on for added texture.
  • Blend ginger with skin into salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
  • Use young ginger with thinner skin, as it’s more tender.
  • Dehydrate sliced ginger skin into ginger powder to use for baking.

When preparing ginger, scraping off the skin with a spoon prior to grating or slicing can help remove some of the fibrous texture while still retaining nutrients.

Should you eat ginger root skin?

Here is a summary of the potential benefits and downsides of eating ginger root skin:

Potential Benefits Potential Downsides
  • Contains fiber, vitamins, minerals
  • Provides phytochemicals like gingerols
  • May reduce nausea, arthritis symptoms
  • Has antioxidants that promote health
  • Tough, fibrous texture
  • May have pesticide residues
  • May harbor germs
  • Can cause allergies in some

Overall, evidence suggests ginger root skin is likely safe and provides a small amount of additional nutrients and health-promoting compounds. However, there is no evidence you must eat the skin in order to reap the benefits of ginger.

For most people, leaving the skin on sliced or grated ginger is an easy way to add fiber and beneficial plant compounds to meals and recipes without compromising taste or texture. However, peeling ginger if preferred is still very healthy.

As with any food, listen to your body and adjust your use of ginger skin based on your personal tolerance and preferences.

The bottom line

Ginger root skin contains beneficial nutrients, fiber, and antioxidant compounds like gingerols. Studies suggest gingerols have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood sugar lowering effects.

Leaving the skin on grated, sliced, or cooked ginger may provide extra nutrients and health benefits. However, ginger skin has a tough texture and may harbor pesticides and germs.

For most people, moderate consumption of ginger skin is safe and simple way to maximize the health benefits of ginger. But peeling ginger before use is still very healthy if you prefer to avoid the skin.

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