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Ginger All the Way

Ginger May Benefit People with Diabetes

From cookies and cakes to coffee drinks and tea, ginger is the star of the menu this time of year. Though holiday gingerbread cookies can hardly be considered a health food, there may be benefit to adding ginger to other foods in your daily diet. A study from the North Carolina Research Campus, home of the Dole Nutrition Institute Laboratory, found compounds in ginger may help to prevent complications associated with diabetes.

Diabetes can result in an abnormal rise in blood sugar, which can lead to production of reactive sugars called MGOs. These compounds can then bind to proteins and form compounds called AGEs. Buildup of AGEs has been linked to diabetic complications including kidney disease, nerve disorders, cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease. Eating ginger may be one way to prevent harmful AGEs from forming.

Researchers from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University isolated two compounds found in ginger: gingerol found in fresh ginger and shogaol found in dried ginger. They suspected the ginger compounds could prevent the formation of AGEs by binding to and trapping MGOs. Researchers mixed the ginger compounds with MGOs in the lab, and found after just one hour, 80% of the compound was trapped. After six hours, less than 5% of the potentially harmful MGO remained.

Though additional studies will need to be conducted in humans, these results suggest ginger may help prevent development of diabetes-related chronic conditions. “Glycation of protein contributes to the known health complications from diabetes,” said Shengmin Sang, PhD, lead author of the study. “Glycation is life threatening far more than high blood sugar itself to diabetic patients.” Ginger may be just the food that can help prevent this harmful process.

Utilize ginger in your cooking all year round. Try grating fresh ginger into vegetable stirfrys or even into smoothies. Ginger can also add unique flavor to dressings or sauces. Take a break from heavy holiday indulgences and make our Grilled Miso Glazed Salmon & Pineapple Ginger Peach Chutney using freshly grated ginger. 

Published December 1, 2015

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