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The Holiday Cookie Ingredient that Prevents Weight Gain

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and to enjoy holiday parties, give gifts, and share celebratory meals with loved ones. The flip side is that it is also a time of seemingly endless rich foods and overeating. From egg nog to turkey dinners, holiday cookies and pastries, let’s face it: most of us eat too much and load up on the calories this time of year.

Fortunately, one of the season’s cookie ingredients offers some protection against the bad eating habits of the holidays: ginger.

New research published in the medical journal Nutrition Research and Practice found that  ginger's naturally-occurring polyphenols and antioxidant compounds protect the body against some of the damaging effects of a high fat diet so prevalent this time of year. Ginger reduced the amount of harmful triglycerides, cholesterol, and low density lipoproteins resulting from eating a high fat diet.

The researchers also found that the spice significantly reduced the amount of weight gained from eating a high fat diet. That’s great news for just about everyone this time of year because there are so few healthy items on most holiday menus.

But, reduced weight gain and fewer heart disease markers aren’t the only reasons to enjoy more ginger in your diet. Ginger is a well-known nausea remedy, which is also a good thing this time of year since overeating can result in indigestion and nausea.

Ginger is also an effective natural antiviral agent, according to herbalist and author Stephen Buhner, helping to reduce the incidence of colds or flu we’re more vulnerable to this time of year. Stress, colder temperatures (yes, viruses thrive in colder temperatures!), depleted immune systems, excess sugar consumption, and exposure to more people make us more vulnerable to catching whatever is going around.

Other research published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that ginger significantly lowers blood sugar levels, suggesting that it may work on other levels to induce weight loss as well. Stabilized blood sugar levels are imperative to weight loss as they signal to the brain that we are full so it can initiate the elimination of excess fat from our bodies. Additionally, balanced blood sugar levels also prevent cravings for unhealthy sugary or fatty foods.

The scientists in the Nutrition Research and Practice study found the best results for preventing weight gain were achieved using steamed gingerroot, rather than alcohol-based tinctures or ginger tea. But, it is highly likely that you’ll experience the same health benefits using freshly-grated gingerroot as well. Powdered ginger is not as likely to yield the same impressive health effects.

It’s easy to get fresh gingerroot into your diet. Yes, you can grate some fresh ginger into your next batch of gingerbread cookies or spice cake. You can also add chopped, fresh ginger to soups, stews, stir-fries, vegetable or meat dishes, and desserts. It is equally delicious in both savory and sweet dishes, making it extremely versatile. You can also add a 1- or 2-inch piece of ginger to your juicer when making fresh juices. Fresh ginger adds a bit of heat and spice to fresh carrot, apple, or vegetable juices.

You can also make a delicious beverage by adding chopped fresh ginger (a 2- to 3-inch piece) to 1 quart (or 1 Liter) of water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for at least 45 minutes. Strain out ginger pieces, add a bit of stevia to taste (optional) and drink. 

Learn more about ginger and many other healing herbs in my book Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.

 

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