Ginger Cholesterol Lowering Properties
Ginger is often thought of as a root, but it actually has a more technical name. It is a rhizome found at the base of the plant called Zingiber officianale. While few have heard of the plant from which ginger comes from, most everyone is familiar with the rhizome it produces. Ginger is most often associated with culinary applications nowadays, however the “root” has been used medicinally for centuries upon centuries. The University of Maryland Medical Center points out for instance, that ginger’s role in healing dates back two millennia, where it served as a potent digestive aid in ancient Chinese medicine. However, in much more recent history, the ginger cholesterol link has been explored much more intently, and the results have been profoundly encouraging.
High cholesterol occurs in many people. The Mayo Clinic explains that the substance itself is not bad, and in fact necessary for many physiological processes, like building cells. However, sometimes, the amount of these fats floating around in the blood stream become too abundant, which can lead to a greatly increased risk of heart disease. High cholesterol can occur due to genetically inherited traits as well as lifestyle factors like poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking. Many times, medications like statins are used in order to reduce cholesterol numbers.
While medications are often the go to course of treatment for elevated cholesterol numbers, there are many things found in nature that can have a similar, although perhaps less pronounced, effect. Like the ginger cholesterol relationship, many compounds that are found in plants have been proven to reduce the amount of fats in the blood. These natural ways to lower cholesterol have been studied in recent tests, and studies have found that various compounds like sterols and stanols are in fact effective at reducing cholesterol levels in various ways. Dr. Mercola references one of these studies that found that in animal tests using ginger, levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides were reduced by nearly one third. This same study that examined ginger’s role among natural ways to lower cholesterol also found that the development of atherosclerosis was inhibited in animal participants, thanks to compounds known as phenolic antioxidants. The study’s findings were not unlike one referenced by The US National Library of Medicine, performed by physicians at The Babol University of Medical Sciences. This particular clinical trial found that in a blind study involving placebos, ginger had a notable effect on lowering lipids (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18813412).
While the ginger cholesterol link is showing tremendous promise, The University of Maryland mentions that there may be further cardiovascular benefits to using the herb. It is thought that the risk of cardiovascular related illness may be further reduced by ginger, due to its purported effectiveness as a natural blood thinner. This means that ginger may an effective agent in protecting against blood clotting, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Thus, there may be numerous ways in which ginger benefits the heart. The herb may be able to reduce the risk of clots, slow the progression of dangerous plaque buildup in the arteries and of course the ginger cholesterol reduction studies show that the herb has promise in reducing bad cholesterol in the blood.
There are many herbs for cholesterol reduction, and more and more are being studied each day. As more trials are performed, even more wonderful uses for ginger may be discovered. For now, the ginger cholesterol tests that have been performed indicate that the rhizome may be as good for the heart as it is for the tummy; however, more research needs to be done before ginger can be declared a true contender among cholesterol lowering remedies.
In the meantime, ginger is quite safe when used in normal amounts for most people (with pregnant women receiving special warnings regarding what has been deemed controversial use). As such, grating the root in food, preparing it in tea and using it in supplements to lower cholesterol is likely safe. However, it is important to discuss any herbal remedies you are considering with your healthcare provider. It is possible that the ginger cholesterol link may be beneficial to you when combined with healthy lifestyle changes in order to lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, it is also possible that using ginger medicinally may cause interference with medications or health conditions. Therefore, having a discussion with a healthcare provider before incorporating the cholesterol fighting power of ginger is a good idea to ensure safe and beneficial use.