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While garlic is one of the oldest "cures for everything" in folklore, it cannot be denied that it is in fact healthy when used in a variety of ways. First, it is considered a natural antibiotic and antioxidant. Many claim that garlic, when ingested at the first signs of a cold, can curb the symptoms sooner and even make them less severe. Garlic is also used as an herbal and all natural remedy for yeast infections and athlete's foot. Some claim it also cures acne and keeps mosquitoes away.
Ginger, like garlic, also seems to have a fairly broad spectrum of health benefits. First and foremost, it is used in herbal remedies for gastrointestinal health. Simply put, ingesting ginger has been known to settle stomachs and alleviate gas and bloating. Additionally, it is known to curb nausea. This is why many pregnant women sip ginger tea or suck on ginger candy to get through morning sickness. You may have noticed that ginger-ale is a stomach settling drink on airplane rides. Seemingly unrelated to the stomach, ginger has also been linked to reducing pain in arthritis sufferers, by reducing inflammation. Others claim that when ingested with regularity, it has an anti-inflammatory effect on muscle pain as well.
As far as how well garlic and ginger "go together" in recipes, you will find that these are two key ingredients in many Asian foods. While both have a distinct and pungent aroma, ginger tends to have a much sweeter flavor than garlic. I happen to like garlic with almost everything, personally, but in my somewhat amateur culinary opinion, the two mix well in sauces, make great marinades for meat, and both pair well with fish.
A current hot topic in nutrition is the idea of "functional foods" defined as a food that has health benefits beyond the calories and nutrients it provides.
Both garlic and ginger fall into this category of "functional foods". However, not all countries recognize this. Nonetheless Japan and Australia are two countries that have accepted a formal definition for "functional foods."
The FDA in the USA is still reviewing how to regulate and use this classification, especially with regard to dietary supplements and health claims.
The NIH created a new division, NCCAM "National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine" that is now focusing on the non-nutrient uses of food. They also have excellent information on both garlic and ginger as foods that may help reduce risk of certain types of cancers.
Ginger, garlic and the addition of green onions often make an Asian "trinity" in cooking just as carrots, onions and celery make up an Italian trinity or "soffrito" base for many dishes. Saute these aromatic vegetables to give whatever you are making a healthy base of flavor for your recipe.
The best recipe I know for using both garlic and ginger is the classic Chinese "ma po" dish which uses the trinity of ginger, garlic and green onions in 1:1:1 ratio with 1 Tbs sesame seed oil.
Garlic is obviously commonly used in cooking, however, it is also considered somewhat medicinal. Garlic is known to boost immunity and increae the health of the human heart. Some believe it can reduce cholesterol. Allicin, a compound largely containing sulfur, is said to be the component of garlic responsible for its health benefits.
Ginger root is traced back to China which is likely why it is likely prescribed in Chinese medicine. It is thought to increase metabolism and circulation, and to cure nausea and colds.
And, yes the two compliment eachother well, in cooking, especially in Asian and Mediteranean cuisine.
Ayurveda gives ginger the status of a virtual medicine chest. There are various benefits like , Ginger improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body. Tummy moaning and groaning under cramps? Munch on ginger. etc
Garlic has a high amount of allicin, a big active component in garlic, and antioxidants which are known to treat hair loss, acne, and the common cold. Ginger is known to reduce inflammation and reduce nausea. Yes ginger does well in food if not too much is applied because it is very strong. And remember ginger is the base in a lot of food and drinks like ginger-ale, and gingerbread cookies.
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