Wonders from Ancient Cooks
Many ethnic cooking traditions have their origin in health considerations. Some of those traditions are so old their origin is unknown, which strongly suggests that the ancients had a very sophisticated knowledge of food and health, some of which is only being rediscovered today.
Throughout most of history, humans have not had the luxury of refrigeration or freezing to preserve food. And even these do not provide permanent storage for food. Meats, whether cooked or raw, deteriorate even when frozen. The cold simply slows down the process. Fat spoilage in meat is a universal problem.
Chemically, fat spoilage is referred to as lipid oxidation. Lipids in meat include fat and cholesterol. Lipid oxidation does more than give meat a rancid, warmed-over flavor. Researchers believe that oxidized lipids also contribute to heart disease. Japanese research suggested that ginger, common in oriental cooking, might retard lipid oxidation in meat. Armed with this knowledge, researchers investigated whether there was any connection between the common use of ginger and Japan's very low rate of heart disease. They found that pork patties seasoned with ginger showed only one third as much lipid oxidation as unseasoned meat.
It appears that even before so called recorded history, people knew that ginger helped preserve meat and keep it more wholesome. This is yet another refutation of the idea that ancient man was primitive and ignorant.