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What Are the Health Benefits of Galangal?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked


Story at-a-glance -

  • Galangal may prevent cancer, obesity, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders, according to research
  • Greater galangal (Alpinia galanga) improves cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia in mice
  • Galangal plants have antimicrobial actions against pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes
  • Lesser galangal (Alpinia officinarum Hance) may be a promising treatment for male infertility
  • Light galangal (Alpinia zerumbet or Alpinia speciosa) may have cardioprotective properties

Galangal is a popularly cultivated and eaten plant in Malaysia, Indonesia, other parts of Southeast Asia and India, but in the U.S. it might be mistaken for the more common ginger. Both galangal and ginger are in the Zingiberaceae family, as are turmeric and cardamom. They're called "rhizomes" because their creeping rootstalks grow horizontally, sending out roots and shoots from nodes.

Both galangal and ginger are used in cooking but there are several clear differences between them. Galangal's skin is smoother and paler than ginger and much harder to cut or grate than ginger, which can be peeled with a spoon. Galangal costs more than ginger but the biggest difference might be in taste.

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