“Did you know that chewing ‘ginger or ginger tea’ can effectively keep heart attacks and strokes away,” reads the first line of a message posted on Facebook in Nigeria.
The rest of the post lists the benefits of ginger, including recommendations for when people should not consume the plant or spice.
A heart attack happens when the oxygen-rich blood supply to the heart is obstructed, which can lead to the build-up of substances that can damage or kill heart muscles.
Stroke is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment. It occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted, causing brain cells to die.
We checked if there is any medical evidence that ginger could prevent these two conditions.
‘Antioxidants alone won’t prevent heart attack’
Oluranti Familoni, professor of cardiology at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in western Nigeria, said while ginger has certain health benefits, it can not singularly prevent heart attacks and strokes.
“Ginger contains many things, some of which are antioxidants. Lots of antioxidants are naturally occurring but antioxidants alone will not prevent heart attack,” he said.
For more information about antioxidants and their role in health, read Africa Check’s factsheet on free radicals, antioxidants and medical myths.
Familoni added that some of the main causes of heart attacks include prolonged elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, known as hypercholesterolemia, and smoking.
He advised that cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, should be given to people who have a heart attack, while waiting for medical help.
Stroke is a medical emergency
Ikenna Onwuekwe, professor of clinical neurology and internal medicine at the University of Nigeria in southeastern Nigeria, told Africa Check that persons who have a stroke should be taken to a hospital immediately to increase their chances of a full recovery.
We asked him about preventing stroke with ginger. He said: “There is absolutely nothing to give credence to this claim. Stroke is a medical emergency and the patient should be taken to a hospital that has the facility to handle such cases in good time.”
He added that hypertension is responsible for “a vast proportion of all types of stroke, either directly or indirectly”.
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