Galangal Nutritional Values and
Health Benefits
Galangal [Other Names: Greater Galangal, Galangale, Galang]
Galangal (from the plant of Alpinia galanga or Languas galangal), like ginger and turmeric,
is a member of the rhizome family. Rhizomes are knobby underground stems that are
known for their pungent and flavorful flesh. Rhizomes are not a significant source of any
nutrients – most especially because they are rarely eaten in great enough quantities to
constitute a serving.

The rhizome (root) of galangal resembles ginger in taste and appearance. One serving (64
g) of galangal contains 45 calories and 2 g of dietary fiber. It is also a source of sodium,
iron, vitamins A and C. It also has some phyto-chemicals such as beta-Sitosterol, Galangin,
Emodin and Quercetin. [3] It is predominantly found in Asian markets and sold fresh, frozen,
dried, or powdered. Galangal is also well known in European medieval cooking. Only a
pinch of dried and powdered versions are typically needed.

Galangal is frequently used in fish and shellfish recipes in combination with garlic, ginger,
chilli, and lemon.

There are three varieties of galangal- Greater Galangal, Lesser Galangal and Kaempferia
Galangal. Different galangal varieties vary in their hotness and flavor. Flavor ranges from
flowery to ginger-like to peppery cinnamon. Greater Galangal has an orange-brown skin
with pale yellow or white interior. Greater galangal can be found in sliced form or powder.
Used as a flavoring throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and parts of India. Lesser Galangal has
a red-brown interior and fibrous texture. It can be founded as slices or powder. Lesser
galangal comes from China where it is used as a medicinal herb, but it is now grown in
Indonesia and regarded as a spice. It has an aromatic and pungent, peppery and ginger-
like flavor. Kaempferia Galangal has red skin and white interior. Used as a flavoring in
South East Asia.

In addition to being used as a spice in cooking, galangal has been used in Asia and the
Middle East in perfumes, snuffs, aphrodisiacs, and as flavors for condiments (including
vinegar and beer), in teas in Germany and wines in Russia. Like ginger, galangal has been
used for medicinal purposes to treat nausea, flatulence, and dyspepsia.

When ripe, galangal should be ivory white and firm with very little separation between skin
and flesh. Never buy galangal that is wrinkled or shriveled. Store refrigerated uncut and
unwrapped for up to 3 weeks or, peel the root and place it in a jar of sherry and store it
refrigerated for several months. Galangal can be frozen if tightly wrapped in foil. Galangal
can be sliced and used to flavor soups and stews (remove before serving). It can also be
mixed with lemon grass, chilies, shallots and garlic into a paste that can be used to flavor
rice dishes. Galangal can also be mixed into a curry paste for similar purposes.

Potential Health Benefits of Galangal

Galangal has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities.
Researchers have proposed the benefits of galangal in certain inflammatory conditions.
Recently, Korean scientists isolated six diarylheptanoids from the rhizome of Alpinia
officinarum or galangal. All these compounds demonstrated inhibitory activities on nitric
oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophage cell line RAW 264.7.
Furthermore, these compounds suppressed expression of the inducible NO synthase
protein and mRNA. [5] Separately, Japanese researchers prepared 80% aqueous acetone
extract of the galangal. This extract was found to contain diarylheptanoids and galangin and
it was also able to inhibit nitric oxide (NO) production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated
mouse peritoneal macrophages. [6] These findings including results from some other
studies are important to understand galangal's anti-inflammatory activities. [8, 11]

Galangal may benefit people at risk of cancer.
In a study of COR L23 lung cancer and MCF7 breast cancer cell lines, UK researchers
showed the anti-cancer activities of galangal extracts. [7]
As described in the previous section, galangal contains a flavonoid-galangin. Galangin has
shown to have anti-oxidative and free radical scavenging activities. It modulates enzyme
activities and suppresses the genotoxicity of chemicals. [1]

Galangal also has a volatile oil. Researchers have shown this volatile oil could enhance
effectively the skin permeation of 5-fluorouracil. [4]

Galangal may have benefits of lipid-lowering.
Researchers from China found that the galangal extract could potently inhibit fatty-acid
synthase (FAS, E.C. They proposed the inhibitory mechanism is related to the
activities of the main flavonoids existing in the galangal such as galangin, quercetin and
kaempferol. [9] While, Korean researchers showed a pancreatic lipase inhibitor, 5-hydroxy-
7-(4'-hydroxy-3'-methoxyphenyl)-1-phenyl-3-heptanone (HPH), from the rhizome of Alpinia
officinarum significantly lowered the serum TG level in corn oil feeding-induced
triglyceridemic mice, and reduced serum triglyceride (TG) and cholesterol in Triton WR-
1339-induced hyperlipidemic mice. [8] Finally, another group demonstrated an ethyl acetate
fraction of Alpinia officinarum rhizome containing 3-methylethergalangin was a potent lipase
inhibitor in a study of hyperlipidemic mice. [10]

Galangal may help emesis.
Japanese researchers found an ingredient of galangal has enti-emetic activities in chicken.


SOURCE 5 A Day: Vegetable of the Month: Rhizomes - Ginger root, Galangal, Tumeric
Reference: [1] Heo MY, Sohn SJ, Au WW. Anti-genotoxicity of galangin as a cancer chemopreventive agent
candidate. Mutat Res. 2001 May;488(2):135-50. [2] Shin D, et al, Antiemetic principles of Alpinia officinarum. J
Nat Prod. 2002 Sep;65(9):1315-8. [3] Luo H, Cai C, Zhang J, Mo L. Study on the chemical components of
Alpinia officinarum Zhong Yao Cai. 1998 Jul;21(7):349-51. [4] Shen Q, Li W, Xu L. The study on Rhizoma
Alpiniae officinarum and other herbs as penetration enhancer for the permeation of 5-fluorouacil Zhong Yao
Cai. 2000 Nov;23(11):697-9. [5] Lee HJ, Kim JS, Ryu JH. Suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase
expression by diarylheptanoids from Alpinia officinarum. Planta Med. 2006 Jan;72(1):68-71. [6] Matsuda H,
Ando S, Kato T, Morikawa T, Yoshikawa M. Inhibitors from the rhizomes of Alpinia officinarum on production of
nitric oxide in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages and the structural requirements of diarylheptanoids for
the activity. Bioorg Med Chem. 2006 Jan 1;14(1):138-42. Epub 2005 Sep 22. [7] Lee CC, Houghton P.
Cytotoxicity of plants from Malaysia and Thailand used traditionally to treat cancer. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Sep
14;100(3):237-43. [7] Ly TN, Shimoyamada M, Kato K, Yamauchi R. Antioxidative compounds isolated from the
rhizomes of smaller galanga (Alpinia officinarum Hance). Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):305-8. [8] Shin JE, Han MJ,
Song MC, Baek NI, Kim DH. 5-Hydroxy-7-(4'-hydroxy-3'-methoxyphenyl)-1-phenyl-3-heptanone: a pancreatic
lipase inhibitor isolated from Alpinia officinarum. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Jan;27(1):138-40. [9] Li BH, Tian WX.
Presence of fatty acid synthase inhibitors in the rhizome of Alpinia officinarum hance. J Enzyme Inhib Med
Chem. 2003 Aug;18(4):349-56. [10] Shin JE, Joo Han M, Kim DH. 3-Methylethergalangin isolated from Alpinia
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