Ginger is a plant that originates in Southeast Asia and forms part of the Zingiberaceae family. One of the healthiest and most popular spices used in cooking, it is a biological relative of turmeric, cardamon and galangal. The part of the ginger plant used in spices is the stem, also known as the rhizome, and can be consumed in a variety of ways including as a powder, juice or in tea. In any form ginger has a number of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol.
A study conducted in 2018 over 60 individuals with hyperlipidaemia, a condition that indicates high levels of cholesterol, found that those who consumed five grams of ginger powder each day saw drops in their LDL levels drop by over 17 percent.
When the study is referring to LDL it is referring to a type of cholesterol.
LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein; also referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol due to the way it blocks arteries with plaque.
When a study refers to HDL it is referring to high-density lipoprotein or ‘good’ cholesterol that improves heart health.
READ MORE: High cholesterol symptoms: Three warning signs of ‘limb ischaemia’
While the study shows a drop in LDL as a result of taking ginger, the participants had to consume high quantities in order for the drop to occur.
Despite this, there are other benefits to consuming ginger in food or drink form other than lowering cholesterol.
A 2014 scientific review concluded “ginger may be considered as part of the treatment of OA [Osteoarthritis], where the patient is motivated for trying this nutraceutical”.
Furthermore, a study conducted three years earlier in 2011 discovered that ginger, in combination with mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil could reduce stiffness and pain in people suffering with osteoarthritis in their knees.
Ginger could also have long-term benefits with regard to brain function and a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia.
This is because chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are key factors in the acceleration of aging; the more that can be done to slow these processes the better as they are thought to be key in the likelihood of Alzheimer’s.
A study conducted as recently as 2014 on animals concluded “a comparative molecular docking approach using AutoDock was taken to identify the potential anti-Alzheimer receptors for ginger”.
However, as with other areas of medicinal research, more data is needed for a link between ginger and Alzheimer’s risk and resistance to be established.
One of the most common places to find ginger is in tea; known for its ability to ease an upset stomach, research suggests that ginger tea could reduce LDL cholesterol.
In a double-blind clinical study ginger power lowered levels of lipid compared to the placebo group.
Other forms of herbal tea can also have health benefits with data from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggesting that green tea could be of use.
It was discovered in 2011 by researchers that green tea could result in “significant reductions in…LDL-cholesterol concentrations, but no effect on HDL cholesterol was observed”.
Although some teas can lower cholesterol levels, there is a caveat in that the effect will not be instantaneous and that the effects will not be felt unless the drink is drunk consistently over a number of weeks.
Furthermore, there are a number of factors that can impact how effective tea is at lowering cholesterol including alcohol consumption, inactivity, smoking and diet.
It is recommended that the best way to find out how effective tea may be on an individual level is through a consultation with your doctor.
More information about cholesterol and ways to lower it are available on the NHS website.