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Are Ginger Chews Good for You? A Registered Dietitian’s Perspective

What are Ginger Chews?

Ginger chews are small, chewy candies that contain ginger as their focal ingredient. Found sometimes in the random aisles of Marshalls, or TJ Max but these little treats can be much more than just a tasty snack!

Ginger, a root vegetable that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, treats various ailments such as nausea, inflammation, and digestive issues. The active compounds in ginger, such as gingerol and shogaol, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a popular natural remedy for many health concerns.

Ginger’s Medicinal History

Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes in cultures around the world for thousands of years. It’s no wonder that ginger chews have become a popular way to incorporate this powerful root into our diets. They are often marketed as a natural remedy for conditions such as:

  • Motion sickness
  • Morning sickness
  • Indigestion

What about ginger chews, are they good for you? Incorporating ginger chews can offer a convenient and natural way to manage nausea or gastrointestinal issues.

Comparing Different Types of Ginger: Ginger Root, Candied Ginger, and Ginger Chews

However, there are key differences between the different forms of ginger: ginger root, candied ginger, and ginger chews. Each variety offers different characteristics and benefits, catering to various needs and preferences. While they share some common health benefits, their potency and usage differ.

Ginger Root

Fresh ginger root provides the highest concentration of beneficial compounds and is commonly used in cooking and traditional medicine.

Candied Ginger

Candied ginger, made by cooking fresh ginger slices in a sugar syrup and drying them, serves as a sweet treat that still retains ginger’s medicinal properties but unfortunately is higher in added sugar.

Ginger Chews

Ginger chews are a convenient choice for on-the-go consumption with some health benefits. They combine ginger extract with sugar and sometimes other ingredients to create a portable, chewy treat. However, due to the processing and added ingredients, ginger chews typically have a lower potency of ginger’s active compounds compared to consuming the ginger root directly. As a result, the strength of ginger’s effects may be less pronounced when consuming ginger chews compared to ingesting the whole ginger root itself.

Health Benefits of Ginger Chews

Ginger has been extensively studied for its health benefits. Ginger chews are lower in it’s active compounds compared to ginger but may be able to aid in some of the health benefits. Some potential benefits of ginger chews include:

1. Nausea Relief

Ginger has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting (1)(2).

2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Ginger contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols, which have anti-inflammatory properties (3).

3. Digestive Aid

Ginger has been used for centuries to aid in digestion. It may help stimulate the production of digestive juices, which can improve digestion and reduce symptoms such as bloating and gas (4).

Risks and Warnings of Ginger Chews: Proceed with Caution

While they may offer some health benefits, such as easing nausea and reducing inflammation, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider before incorporating them into your daily routine:

1. Added Sugar

Ginger chews often contain sugar. This is an important consideration for people with diabetes, as the sugar in these chews can increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, when calculating daily carbohydrate consumption, the sugar content of ginger chews should be factored in. It is essential to:

  • Read the label carefully to check for added sugars
  • Choose ginger chews that are low in added sugars, or opt for natural ginger slices for a healthier alternative

2. Potential Side Effects

Ginger is generally regarded as safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts. While ginger chews have reduced levels of active ingredients, thereby decreasing the likelihood of negative reactions, some individuals may still experience specific side effects, such as

  • Heartburn, due to ginger’s natural acidity
  • Diarrhea, especially when consumed in large quantities

If you experience any of these side effects, consider reducing your ginger intake or discontinuing use altogether.

3. Interactions with Medications

Consuming ginger chews in small quantities is generally not a major concern for interactions with medications. However, consuming them in large amounts could potentially lead to interactions with certain drugs. It’s important to consult your doctor to determine if it’s safe to include ginger chews in your diet.

Potential Interactions

  • Blood thinners: Ginger root may interact with blood thinners like warfarin, increasing the risk of bleeding.
  • Diabetes medications: Ginger root has been known to lower blood sugar levels. Monitor with caution.
  • High blood pressure medications: Ginger root may interfere with these medications, causing fluctuations in blood pressure that could be dangerous for some individuals.

4. Allergic Reactions

Although rare, some people may be allergic to ginger. If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, discontinue use and seek immediate medical attention.

Different Types of Ginger Chews Available in the Market

When shopping for ginger chews, you’ll come across various options that cater to different preferences and dietary needs. Here are some popular types of ginger chews available in the market:

1. Traditional

These are the classic ginger chews made with simple ingredients such as ginger, sugar, and tapioca starch. They have a sweet and spicy flavor profile and a firm, chewy texture.

2. Organic

For those who prefer organic products, there are ginger chews made with organic ingredients. These chews typically contain organic ginger, organic cane sugar, and other natural additives.

3. Sugar-Free

If you’re looking to limit your sugar intake or follow a specific diet plan, sugar-free can be an option. These chews often use alternative sweeteners like stevia or xylitol to provide sweetness without added sugars. However, be mindful of the impact that alternative sweeteners have on the body.

4. Flavored

To add variety to their taste, some come infused with additional flavors such as lemon, orange, and mango. These flavored options can offer a more enjoyable experience for those who find the taste of pure ginger too strong.

As you explore these different types, it’s essential to read the labels carefully and consider factors like added sugars and potential allergens before making your choice.

Easy Homemade Ginger Chews

Whipping up ginger chews at home is a fantastic way to savor the goodness of ginger without any additives or excess sugars. Plus, you’re in control of the ingredients.

When you craft your own, you can fine-tune the recipe to your liking. Feel free to experiment with alternative sweeteners or sugar substitutes like monk fruit or allulose, or introduce other flavors like lemon or orange zest.

In Conclusion

In summary, while ginger chews can be a convenient option for relief from nausea, inflammation, and digestive issues, using ginger root itself is likely the best choice. Ginger chews, when consumed in small amounts, can offer similar benefits, but it’s important to consider the sugar content and the ingredients. Exploring various types of ginger chews or preparing your own at home can provide a balance between convenience and customization. Regardless, always consult with your healthcare professional before incorporating ginger chews or other natural remedies into your routine, particularly if you have pre-existing medical conditions or take medications.

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