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Pain-fighting Foods

7 superfoods that ease pain. Plus, tasty recipes

Painkillers in Your Pantry

Ginger can reduce inflammation and help ease chronic knee pain. — Corbis

Ginger

Long used as a digestive aid, ginger is also an effective painkiller. Almost two-thirds of patients with chronic knee pain reported less soreness upon standing after taking a ginger extract, according to a six-week study from the University of Miami. Those who consumed ginger also reported less pain after walking 50 feet than those taking a placebo — and they needed less pain medication. And new research suggests ginger may also help tackle post-workout pain.

"Ginger relieves pain by blocking an enzyme that's a key component of the inflammatory process," says investigator Christopher D. Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Two to three teaspoons a day should do the trick. "That's not an overwhelming amount," he says. "You could easily add that to a stir-fry or soup." Other options include ginger tea and beverages made with fresh ginger.

Recipe: Ginger and Chili Chicken With Basil

by Monica Bhide

Serves 4

2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 dried red chilis
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons honey
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
12 to 14 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Thinly sliced, peeled ginger, for garnish

1. In a medium bowl, mix the cornstarch and water into a paste. Add the chicken pieces and toss well to coat.

2. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it is cooked through and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add the chilis and minced ginger and stir-fry for another minute.

4. Stir in the honey, soy sauce and vinegar and cook for 1 minute or so, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and heat through, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the basil and sliced ginger.

Nutrients per serving: 255 calories, 26g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 10g fat, 66mg cholesterol, 861mg sodium

Next: Soy solutions. >>

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