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How Much Ginger Is Safe During Pregnancy

by Clara Wynn
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How Much Ginger Is Safe During Pregnancy

How Much Ginger Is Safe During Pregnancy

How Much Ginger Is Safe During Pregnancy? Ginger has been used as a medicinal herb throughout history in Asia, Europe and North America. The spiciness of this root makes it an appealing addition to many foods — from soups and sauces to cakes and beverages. It’s also known for its ability to treat nausea and morning sickness. But did you know that the spice can even help with labor pain? And if that wasn’t enough, there are some studies suggesting that ginger may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity.

Now all these health benefits might lead you to wonder whether this popular root could actually improve your overall health and well-being while pregnant. Some research indicates that it might, but the jury’s still out. What we do know is that certain compounds found within ginger have shown promise at treating various conditions including motion sickness, menstrual cramps and arthritis [sources: WebMD]. For example, the compound shogaol, present only in fresh ginger, seems to reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and gingerols appear to inhibit prostaglandin E2 production, which causes swelling [sources: O’Mahony et al., Sperling].

But what does this mean for you and your unborn child? Should you cut back on the amount of ginger you eat during pregnancy? Recent research suggests not necessarily so. In fact, moderate consumption of certain spices during pregnancy appears to have no harmful effect on either mother or fetus.

The latest study to address the issue comes from Japan where researchers studied the effects of eating ginger among women who were planning to become pregnant. They conducted a survey of more than 600 women ranging in age from 20 to 40 years old. The results showed that none of the women experienced any major problems after eating ginger regularly (at least once a week). None of them reported miscarriage; congenital malformations; or other complications such as premature delivery or low birth weight babies. Most importantly, the children born to mothers who consumed ginger had normal physical development and mental function [sources: Yamada et al.]
So how much ginger should you consume during pregnancy? Read on to find out.

Spice Up Your Diet With These Tasty Seasonings

When discussing the safety of ginger during pregnancy, it helps to consider the type of ginger being eaten. Fresh ginger contains mostly active ingredients called gingerols, whereas dried ginger contains mostly zingiberene. Both types are considered safe by most experts, but ginger pills contain little gingerols and zingiberine. If you’re trying to avoid supplements altogether, stick to fresh ginger or buy organic prepared products made from fresh ginger.

Pregnant Women’s Food Guide

It’s best to limit your intake of ginger to one tablespoon daily. That means dividing the amount by two to four servings each day. This translates into approximately ½ ounce to 1 ounce of fresh ginger daily.

Choose whole peeled gingerroot rather than powdered ginger because the latter is likely to have added sugars or binders. To prepare fresh ginger for cooking use a sharp knife to carefully remove peel and pith from 2 tablespoons of whole gingerroot. Then grate using a fine cheese grater or shred with a vegetable peeler.

To prepare chopped fresh ginger, first peel and slice off the stem end. Use a sharp chef’s knife to separate the fibrous parts, then mince finely. You’ll need less than ¼ cup minced fresh ginger compared to 1 tablespoon ground ginger.

If you prefer to purchase pre-packaged ginger pieces, look for those labeled “organic” since they typically contain fewer preservatives than non-organically grown gingers.

How Long Does Ginger Stay in Your System?

Most people usually think of garlic and onions as lasting longer in their system than other common seasonings like salt, pepper and cinnamon. However, when you compare the amounts of ginger someone consumes versus the others, you’ll discover that ginger is actually stronger.

In general, spices like ginger, cloves and peppers tend to stay in your body a lot longer than other herbs and spices, such as oregano and thyme. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, author of Nutrition & Immunity, fresh ginger stays in your stomach for three hours before moving through your digestive tract. Oregano remains in your mouth for only 30 minutes and thyme lingers for just 45 minutes. Salt, pepper and cinnamon linger for about 90 minutes. So, although ginger isn’t nearly as strong as salt, pepper or cinnamon, it lasts longer in your system.

One final note regarding ginger: Don’t give it to kids under 3 months old due to possible side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea and sleep disturbances. Children older than 3 months shouldn’t exceed half a teaspoon of ginger per meal.

For more information on food safety and related topics, visit the next page.

Although ginger is often touted as having natural remedies for diabetes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there is currently no evidence that taking ginger improves glucose control. On the contrary, patients with gestational diabetes should take extra precautions to manage their condition. Talk to your doctor about ways to better monitor your blood sugar levels.

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