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Nutrients 2018, 10(2), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10020166

Viewpoint: A Contributory Role of Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) for Human Longevity in Okinawa, Japan?

1
Department of Internal Medicine II, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Klinikum Hanau, D-63450 Hanau, Teaching Hospital of the Medical Faculty, Goethe University Frankfurt/ Main, Frankfurt/ Main, Germany
2
Division of Development Technology, Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC), Hiroshima University, Higashi Hiroshima 739-8529, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract

The longevity of the population in the Okinawa Islands of Japan has been ascribed to genetic factors and the traditional Okinawa cuisine, which is low in calories and high in plant content. This diet includes shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L. Burtt & R.M. Sm) of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Due to its local popularity, Alpinia zerumbet has become the subject of a good deal of study at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa. Personal local experience and review of the literature now suggest that culinary shell ginger may contribute to longevity among the population in Okinawa. This is supported by its abundant phytochemical content, with antioxidant and anti-obesity properties. The major bioactive phytochemicals are dihydro-5,6-dehydrokawain (DDK; 80–410 mg g−1 fresh weight), 5,6-dehydrokawain (DK; ≤100 mg g−1), and essential oils, phenols, phenolic acids, and fatty acids (≤150 mg g−1 each). Further, Alpinia zerumbet extends the lifespan in animals by 22.6%. In conclusion, culinary shell ginger may significantly contribute to human longevity in Okinawa. View Full-Text
Keywords: Alpinia zerumbet; shell ginger; longevity; centenarians; Okinawa; Okinawa diet; bioactive phytochemicals; radical scavenging chemicals; reactive oxygen species; ROS; antioxidants; polyphenols; kavalactones; sirtuins Alpinia zerumbet; shell ginger; longevity; centenarians; Okinawa; Okinawa diet; bioactive phytochemicals; radical scavenging chemicals; reactive oxygen species; ROS; antioxidants; polyphenols; kavalactones; sirtuins
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Teschke, R.; Xuan, T.D. Viewpoint: A Contributory Role of Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) for Human Longevity in Okinawa, Japan? Nutrients 2018, 10, 166.

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