The key to living a long and fulfilling life does not lie in imbibing some ancient text nor is it simply the result of good luck. If science has taught us anything, the answer lies in leading a healthy lifestyle. Research into the properties of different foods shows that following particular diets can offer protection against life-threatening complications, such as heart disease.
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While it is important to focus on your overall dietary approach, certain ingredients have been shown to offer myriad health benefits.
One such ingredient is ginger, a staple of Asian cookery.
The innumerable health benefits of eating ginger include offering protection against heart disease, a major killer both in the UK and worldwide.
How does it offer protection against heart disease?
Heart disease happens when a form of fatty tissue called LDL cholesterol clogs up the arteries that supply oxygen to the heart.
Ginger has been shown to be a potent weapon against this precursor to heart disease.
In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, three grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.
This is echoed by a study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin.
Both studies also showed reductions in total cholesterol and blood triglycerides, a term used to describe the total measure of fatty substances found in your blood.
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Ginger’s benefits to longevity can also be seen in its proven ability to offer protection against different forms of cancer.
Research attributes the anti-cancer properties to 6-gingerol, a substance that is found in large amounts in raw ginger.
In a study of 30 individuals, two grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signalling molecules in the colon.
Colon cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
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What’s more, early evidence suggests ginger may be effective against pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer, but more research is needed to support these claims.
In addition, eating ginger has been shown to offer some protection against a major age-related killer – Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a collection of symptoms associated with brain decline that mainly develops as people get older, although it is not a natural part of the ageing process.
Oxidative stress, a process whereby unstable molecules damage cells in the body, and chronic inflammation, can accelerate the ageing process.
These harmful processes are believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Some studies in animals suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain.
There is also some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly.
In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory.
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