Nothing can beat a soothing cup of crystallized ginger tea on the cold winter days. You can also add crystallized ginger to oatmeal and homemade desserts or dip it in chocolate. Although this treat is healthier than regular candy, it still contains sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation.
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Crystallized ginger contains more sugar per serving than a chocolate bar or candies. Although it's higher in antioxidants and bioactive compounds than most sweets, its risks outweigh the benefits.
Is Crystallized Ginger Healthy?
Candied fruits are a favorite treat for children and grownups alike. Chewy and flavorful, they melt into your mouth and satisfy your sweet tooth. When it comes to candied ginger versus crystallized ginger, they are pretty much the same, as they're both made by boiling the spice in a mixture of water and sugar. Candied ginger, though, is typically sweeter and more syrupy than its crystallized counterpart.
The health benefits of ginger are backed up by science. This root, which comes from the Zingiber officinale plant, has been used as food and medicine for centuries.
According to a February 2015 article published in the Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products, ginger may help relieve nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloating and constipation. It also exhibits antitussive, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
This spice may protect against cancer due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. A review featured in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine in April 2013 attributes these potential health benefits to gingerols, paradols, shogaol and other phytochemicals.
Read more: How Much Raw Ginger Can You Eat?
Ginger is also being studied for its ability to improve the symptoms of arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, it may help with delayed gastric emptying, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroenteritis and other digestive disorders.
Boil the root to make crystallized ginger. According to a September 2015 review published in the International Journal of Food Properties, boiling this root at 100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, for longer than eight minutes reduces its antioxidant capacity. Additionally, crystallized ginger is significantly higher in sugar than its fresh counterpart.
Side Effects of Crystallized Ginger
Crystallized ginger doesn't have any major side effects other than those associated with sugar. This snack provides 130 calories and 31 grams of carbs, including 30 grams of sugar per serving (1.4 ounces), as reported by the USDA. It also supplies 4 percent of the daily recommended calcium intake.
Fresh ginger, on the other hand, contains little or no sugar, depending on how much you use. One ounce of raw ginger root has only 5 grams of carbs, including 0.5 grams of sugars. That's about 34 calories, 7.6 grams of carbs and 0.7 grams of sugars in 1.4 ounces.
The American Heart Association recommends that men limit their sugar intake to 36 grams per day. If you're a woman, try not to exceed 25 grams. Just one serving of crystallized ginger contains 30 grams of sugars, which is higher than the recommended maximum daily intake for women.
As Harvard Health Publishing notes, excess sugar consumption may put you at risk for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems. On top of that, it contributes to chronic inflammation and high blood pressure. Other side effects of crystallized ginger — and sugary foods in general — include a greater risk of cavities, metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Ginger itself is considered safe. However, it may cause bloating and heartburn in some individuals, warns the University of Rochester. This spice doesn't pose any risks during pregnancy, but you should still consult your doctor before using it.
When it comes to crystallized ginger, enjoy it in moderation due to its very high sugar content. Milk chocolate, for example, provides more calories than crystallized ginger, but has only 16 grams of sugar per serving (1.4 ounces), depending on the brand. Peanut butter candy bars, by comparison, supply 209 calories and 16.9 grams of added sugars per serving (1.4 ounces).
- Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products: "Ginger From Ancient Times to the New Outlook"
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine: "Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence"
- Food Science & Nutrition: "Ginger in Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials"
- International Journal of Food Properties: "Optimized Heat Treatment Enhances the Anti-Inflammatory Capacity of Ginger"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Crystallized Ginger"
- USDA: "Raw Ginger Root"
- American Heart Association: "Added Sugars"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Sweet Danger of Sugar"
- European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry: "The Sweet Danger of Added Sugars"
- University of Rochester: "Ginger"
- BMC Nutrition Journal: "A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effect and Safety of Ginger in the Treatment of Pregnancy-Associated Nausea and Vomiting"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Milk Chocolate"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Peanut Butter Candy Bars"