Nutritional implications of ginger: chemistry, biological activities and signaling pathways

J Nutr Biochem. 2020 Dec;86:108486. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2020.108486. Epub 2020 Aug 19.


Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) has been used as a food, spice, supplement and flavoring agent and in traditional medicines due to its beneficial characteristics such as pungency, aroma, nutrients and pharmacological activity. Ginger and ginger extracts were reported to have numerous effects, such as those on diabetes and metabolic syndrome, cholesterol levels and lipid metabolism, and inflammation, revealed by epidemiological studies. To understand the beneficial characteristics of ginger, especially its physiological and pharmacological activities at the molecular level, the biological effects of ginger constituents, such as monoterpenes (cineole, citral, limonene and α/β-pinenes), sesquiterpenes (β-elemene, farnesene and zerumbone), phenolics (gingerols, [6]-shogaol, [6]-paradol and zingerone) and diarylheptanoids (curcumin), and the associated signaling pathways are summarized. Ginger constituents are involved in biological activities, such as apoptosis, cell cycle/DNA damage, chromatin/epigenetic regulation, cytoskeletal regulation and adhesion, immunology and inflammation, and neuroscience, and exert their effects through specific signaling pathways associated with cell functions/mechanisms such as autophagy, cellular metabolism, mitogen-activated protein kinase and other signaling, and development/differentiation. Estrogens, such as phytoestrogens, are one of the most important bioactive materials in nature, and the molecular mechanisms of estrogen actions and the assays to detect them have been discussed. The molecular mechanisms of estrogen actions induced by ginger constituents and related applications, such as the chemoprevention of cancers, and the improvement of menopausal syndromes, osteoporosis, endometriosis, prostatic hyperplasia, polycystic ovary syndrome and Alzheimer's disease, were summarized by a comprehensive search of references to understand more about their health benefits and associated health risks.

Keywords: Estrogen assay; Estrogenicity; Ginger; Phytoestrogens; Signal transduction pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Dysmenorrhea / drug therapy
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Female
  • Ginger / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Nausea / drug therapy
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Phenol / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Phenol
  • Cholesterol