Galangal: Uses and Considerations

Have you ever heard of galangal? In this article, we'll tell you what it is exactly and the benefits of including it in your diet!
Galangal: Uses and Considerations

Last update: 10 September, 2021

Galangal is a plant that belongs to the same family as ginger, a root that shares its specific nutritional properties. It’s usually a brown color, although it’s pale inside. It stands out for its spicy flavor, although it’s an aromatic food.

It’s worth remembering that using culinary spices is a good idea; they usually contain phytonutrients with anti-oxidizing properties. Regularly including it in your diet can generate a series of positive effects.

Nutrients and vitamins

Galangal is a root that doesn’t provide much energy at just 71 calories per 3.5 ounces. However, its best characteristic is its carbohydrate content; for every 3.5 ounces of the root, it provides 1/2 ounce of protein. Also, it has a significant amount of fiber.

However, galangal really stands out for its micro and phytonutrients content. Among the first group, we have vitamin C. Every 3.5 ounces of the root gives us 1/10 ounce of the nutrient. When it comes to phytonutrients, there’s an innumerable amount of flavonoids and phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing action.

Benefits of galangal

Let’s take a look at the main benefits of galangal when incorporating it into a varied and balanced diet.

Improves immune function

This is because of its vitamin C content. This nutrient has the ability to improve the immune system’s function, which provides more efficient protection against respiratory-type infections, as a study published in Frontier in Immunology demonstrates.

vitamin C logo with an orange
Although many of us associate vitamin C with citrus fruits, other foods can provide sufficient amounts of it.

Protects against tumor processes

According to an investigation published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, blue ginger may protect us against the development and progression of certain cancers due to its anti-oxidizing activity. This is especially true in those with tumors in their breast tissue. Specialists found very positive effects using this with prescribed medication.

Anti-inflammatory action

Inflammation is the mechanism through which many complex issues develop. An example of this would be cardiovascular issues.

Galangal, due to its phytonutrients content, is able to balance inflammatory processes. This helps to avoid an overproduction of this response. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, galangal generates anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-oxidizing effects, thanks to its phenolic compounds.

Differences with traditional ginger and turmeric

People tend to buy galangal with traditional ginger and turmeric as these all provide health benefits and fit within a group of culinary condiments.

The main difference between these 3 spices is that traditional ginger and turmeric seem to help our metabolic health, improving diabetes control. However, there’s no evidence that galangal has the same effect. Similarly, whilst traditional ginger aids in weight loss, galangal stands out for its ability to increase sperm count.

In fact, it’s a good idea to combine or alternative your use of these 3 condiments. They’re supposedly positive for the majority of the population.

Side effects of galangal

As a general rule, galangal is considered a safe food that doesn’t generate any side effects. However, it’s best to avoid consuming it in some scenarios, such as pregnancy.

If you consume a high dosage of this herb, you may experience gastrointestinal alterations. This can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, or an increase in gas. Also, not measuring how much you consume may lead to increased secretion of stomach acid.

Regardless, as a spice and in the context of a varied diet, this problem doesn’t happen often. Galangal is considered a safe and beneficial food.

galangal on a chopping board
There are notable similarities between galangal, traditional ginger, and turmeric, but their effects on the body aren’t the same!

How can you consume it?

It’s common to find galangal powder or root in specialized markets. In western countries, it’s not as commonplace.

You can use it easily by adding the powder to your cooking, as you would with traditional ginger. When it comes to using the root, it’s a good idea to use a conventional grater. But remember that it’ll add a certain spicy touch to your food.

Galangal: a root with many beneficial properties

Galangal has several health benefits. It’s a good idea to include it within a balanced diet, although it may be difficult to find in many cities and countries. You should try stores that specialize in exotic properties if you want to buy this ingredient.

However, you shouldn’t think of galangal as a miracle remedy. Although there’s evidence that it helps generate a certain level of protection against some disorders, you shouldn’t abandon any medication a specialist has prescribed you. Overall, you should use galangal as a complementary spice.

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  • Cerullo G, Negro M, Parimbelli M, Pecoraro M, Perna S, Liguori G, Rondanelli M, Cena H, D’Antona G. The Long History of Vitamin C: From Prevention of the Common Cold to Potential Aid in the Treatment of COVID-19. Front Immunol. 2020 Oct 28;11:574029. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.574029. PMID: 33193359; PMCID: PMC7655735.
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