Can You Eat Ginger While Pregnant
Can You Eat Ginger While Pregnant? The smell alone may be enough for most people — but not pregnant women. The spicy root known for its medicinal properties has been used in many cultures since ancient times when it was thought to cure everything from colds to kidney stones. Today, spice still holds up as one of nature’s greatest medicines. Its active compound, gingerol, contains powerful antioxidants that fight cancer-causing free radicals [Source: Mayo Clinic]. But does eating ginger while pregnant pose any risks? And what about supplements? Let’s start by talking about how ginger works.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an annual herbaceous plant native to tropical areas from Asia to Australia. In some parts of the world, such as India, China and Indonesia, ginger is a staple crop. Most ginger grown commercially is either fresh or dried; the latter can be ground into a paste called ginger powder. Fresh ginger roots have a strong flavor and pungent odor, and they contain high levels of volatile oils. When fresh, it also packs a punch when added to hot beverages like tea and coffee or mixed with other spices. Dried ginger is less intense, and its taste mellows out during cooking. Many recipes call for both types of ginger.
It’s easy to see why this versatile root has earned its place among the oldest remedies for disease in human history. Today, we know that ginger contains phytochemicals, including shogaols, which protect against damage caused by UV rays. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that ginger prevented breast tumors from growing back after surgery and radiation therapy. Other studies show ginger extract may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels [Source: WebMD]
But there’s more to ginger than just science. What do pregnant women say about its use? Keep reading to find out.
What happens when you eat ginger
If you think of ginger as something to add to your cup of tea or spice up your food, then you might want to consider adding it to your diet during pregnancy. However, because ginger contains a chemical that stimulates uterine contractions, it should only be taken at low doses [Source: Mayo Clinic]. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers ginger safe, pregnant women shouldn’t take large amounts unless directed to do so by their doctor. If you suffer from nausea or vomiting, heartburn or acid reflux, consult your physician before ingesting ginger.
Also keep in mind that ginger isn’t recommended for women who are trying to conceive.
When consumed by mouth, ginger releases chemicals that cause burning sensations throughout your body. This action makes it useful for relieving pain, fever and congestion. Since ginger causes stomachaches and diarrhea, it’s best taken on an empty stomach. Some people report that consuming raw ginger gives them gas, so you’ll need to chew it thoroughly before swallowing.
For those who don’t enjoy the taste of plain ginger, there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into meals. One traditional way is to grate fresh ginger over stir-fried vegetables, rice or noodles. Another option is to mix grated ginger with curry powder or chili peppers. For dessert, try incorporating chopped ginger into ice cream, cakes, cookies, pancakes, muffins, pudding and yogurt.
Keep reading to learn whether supplements are good for you and your baby.
In 2003, researchers discovered that women whose diets included lots of garlic were 20 percent less likely to miscarry [Source: BBC News]. Garlic contains compounds that prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. These same compounds could potentially stop an embryo from developing properly. Researchers speculate that these effects may interfere with implantation when the egg attaches itself to the uterine wall.
Women who took 400 micrograms of allicin per day had no trouble conceiving, giving birth normally and having healthy infants. Allicin is produced naturally in plants when the enzyme alliinase attacks alliin. Cooking destroys much of the alliin present, but garlic pills are made by extracting the remaining alliin. Because the jury is still out on whether allicin benefits fertility, women who wish to become pregnant should continue to consume garlic in moderation [Source: Mayo Clinic].
Take a supplement
You probably already know that you can buy ginger supplements online or in health food stores. But did you know that pregnant women aren’t the only ones who benefit from supplementation? Studies suggest that menopausal women who take daily supplements containing calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and E improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Men who consume zinc-rich foods appear healthier and younger. Supplementing your diet with vitamins B6 and folic acid reduces the incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifuda in babies born to mothers who smoke cigarettes.
However, before you start popping capsules full of beta-carotene, potassium chloride and niacin, remember that nutritionists recommend consulting your doctor first. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Women should be advised to speak with their physicians about possible interactions between medications and herbal products” [Source: ACOG]. As always, pregnant women should talk to their doctors about whether or not to take any kind of medication, prescription or otherwise.
To learn more about ginger and pregnancy, browse through the resources on the following page.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R),