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Jerusalem Artichokes and Ginger Root: Similarities and Differences

Beverley has a degree in Science. She's also a published author off- and online. Topics include health, food, inspiration, and religion.

Jerusalem artichoke (also known as sunchoke, sunroot, and topinambour, among others) and ginger root (commonly called ginger) are both edible, underground rhizomes that resemble each other. They have outstanding differences, as well as a few other similarities. For instance, they originate from different parts of the world, and their leaves, plant-heights, flavor, texture, storage requirements, and uses in cooking and medicine are unique. But they are both perennials with yellow flowers, and they provide us with some of the same essential nutrients.

Fresh Jerusalem artichoke

Fresh Jerusalem artichoke

Ginger root

Ginger root

Origins

By all accounts, Jerusalem artichoke is native to North America, mainly in the Eastern and Midwestern regions. Ginger root was first discovered in foothills of Northern India. Today, species of both plants are cultivated throughout the world.

Jerusalem artichoke plant

Jerusalem artichoke plant

Ginger root plant

Ginger root plant

Description

The plant of the Jerusalem artichoke can reach an average of 10 feet in height. Like its sunflower cousins, its stems and leaves are hairy. It thrives on the boundaries of fields and woods. Some consider it invasive. The scientific name for Jerusalem artichoke is Helianthus tubersus.

The ginger root plant can reach a height of 15 feet and the width of four. The leaves are narrow like grass blades. This 5,000-plus-year-old species is related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. Ginger is scientifically called Zingiber officinale.

Cooking and Medicinal Uses

Jerusalem artichoke tubers are prepared much like potatoes, with or without peel. In fact, they can be substituted in recipes that call for potatoes to avoid high-starch consumption. The tubers can be boiled, mashed, pureed, sautéed, roasted, fried, steamed, or added to soups. They can also be eaten raw in salads. Jerusalem artichokes are even made into flour.

Ginger tubers are used mostly as spice, garnish, or medicine. Using it with peel attached, depends on maturity. They are great in soups, curries, sauces, marinades, main dishes, pickled, desserts, candy, tea, other beverages, and lozenges. They’re commonly used in Asian, including South Asian, cuisine. Ginger can be purchased fresh, powdered, encapsulated, or as essential oils.

Flavors, Textures, and Aromas

The flavor of Jerusalem artichoke has been described as sweet, nutty, ambrosial with a crunchy, radish-like consistency, and odorless.

Ginger, on the other hand, provides a spicy or peppery punch, a chewy, fibrous texture, and pungent odor.

Availability, Storage Needs, and Shelf Life

Fresh ginger root is much more available in supermarkets and produce shops than Jerusalem artichoke. The reason is that the latter is not as commonly known. Regarding storage, both can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. But the artichoke lasts 10 to 14 days, whereas ginger lasts for as long as four weeks.

jerusalem-artichokes-and-ginger-root-resemble-each-other-what-else-do-they-have-in-common

Similarities

As mentioned earlier, Jerusalem artichoke and ginger root are rhizomes or underground stems whose appearance are quite similar. Both are lumpy, knobby, or knotty with skins that are thin and usually tan or light brown in color (sunchokes can also have white, pink or purple tones). Their flesh appears white or creamy. Although, the Jerusalem artichoke flesh will turn red if left exposed to air. This is due to oxidation. Depending on species, ginger’s flesh can also appear red or light yellow. You may even see a light green color close to the skin. Both tubers are associated with fiber, but in different ways, which will be explained in their nutritional profiles.

  • Description: Jerusalem artichoke and ginger root are both perennials that bloom yellow flowers.
  • Storage: Both tubers can be frozen for future use.

Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits

Consuming both Jerusalem artichoke and ginger root will provide our bodies with some of the essential and important nutrients needed for optimum health. Some of the nutrients are different. Others are the same but in different quantities. This is also reflected in the health benefits they provide.

Nutritional Profile of Jerusalem Artichoke

Most notably in Jerusalem artichoke is dietary fiber. The vegetable tuber is especially rich in the soluble fiber inulin, which is an oligofructan or oligofructose. According to an article on the nutrition of Jerusalem artichoke (see Sources), one cup or 150 grams (g) of sliced tuber gives us about 10 percent of our daily requirement. Additionally, it contains insoluble fibers and protein, and is high in certain vitamins and minerals. It is low in fat, cholesterol, and calories.

The rhizome contains the flavonoid carotene, vitamins A, B1(thiamin), B3(niacin), B5(pantothenic acid), folate (B9), choline, C, and E, and the minerals iron- in the highest amount for rhizomes, potassium, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium.

Nutritional Profile of Ginger Root

The ginger rhizome contains some carbohydrates, dietary fiber, no protein, no fat, no cholesterol, small quantities of vitamins B1, B5, folate, and the mineral zinc. It’s rich in vitamins B3, B6, and C, and the minerals iron, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus (see Sources). Ginger also has the powerful polyphenols gingerol, shogaols, zingerone, and paradol, which are best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

A quarter cup of sliced ginger root contains a negligible percentage of dietary fiber. Additionally, it contains no protein, no vitamin A, and no vitamin E to speak of. The vitamins and minerals shared with Jerusalem artichoke are in smaller quantities. Ginger root’s claim to fame is its unique phytonutrients or polyphenols, which the artichoke rhizome does not contain.

Health Benefits of Jerusalem Artichoke

As stated earlier, the most important nutrient offerings of Jerusalem artichoke are the dietary fiber inulin and the mineral iron. Inulin is converted into short-chain fatty acids, which makes it a great prebiotic or food source for the friendly bacteria in our gut’s microbiome. This, in turn, helps us attain a strong immune system and a proper functioning digestive system. It also protects us against colon cancer and type 2 diabetes (it helps maintain appropriate blood glucose levels), lowers oxidative stress, and promotes weight loss.

The mineral iron increases the production of blood hemoglobin, prevents anemia and other blood and circulatory diseases, assists in certain enzymatic reactions, increases brain and muscle functions, and prevents fatigue and weakness.

Vitamins A, C, and E act as antioxidants, which protect our cells and tissues from the harmful effects of free radicals. The B-vitamins help convert food into energy, assist in a number of hormonal and enzymatic functions, in brain and cardiac health, and in the production and repair of DNA. The minerals magnesium and phosphorus improve bone health. And potassium is necessary for good heart health.

Health Benefits of Ginger Root

Overall, ginger’s polyphenol compounds are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and carminative. They protect our bodies from infectious, chronic, and other diseases such as colds, flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers (ovarian, pancreatic, prostate). They also regulate blood glucose levels to prevent type 2 diabetes. Additionally, they prevent cardiovascular disease, stomach/gastric ulcers, heartburn, athlete’s foot, menstrual cramps, morning sickness (pregnant women), motion sickness, oxidative stress, improve brain function, and promote proper digestive health.

The vitamins and minerals in ginger root perform the same functions as the vitamins and minerals in Jerusalem artichoke. Also note that ginger’s phytonutrients also perform some of the functions of the sunchoke rhizome such as regulating blood glucose levels to prevent type 2 diabetes, preventing oxidative stress, improving brain function, and promoting digestive health.

Jerusalem Artichoke and Ginger Root: Similarities and Differences

CriterionSimilaritiesDifferences

Physical and Historical Description

1. Both are lumpy, knobby, or knotty with skins that are thin and usually tan or light brown in color. Their flesh appears white or creamy. 2. Both are perennials & bloom yellow flowers. 3. Both tubers can be frozen for future use.

1. Jerusalem artichoke is native to the Eastern and Midwestern regions of North America. Ginger root is native to foothills of northern India. 2. Jerusalem Artichoke’s plant reaches a height of 10 feet with hairy stems and leaves, while the ginger plant reaches a height of 15 feet with smooth leaves resembling blades of grass.

Usage

None

Jerusalem artichoke is used mainly as a meal. Ginger is used mainly as spice, garnish, or medicine.

Flavor, Texture, and Aroma

None

Jerusalem artichoke has a sweet, nutty, ambrosial with a crunchy, radish-like consistency, and odorless. Ginger root spicy or peppery punch, a chewy, fibrous texture, and pungent odor.

Shelf Life

Both can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Jerusalem artichoke for up to 14 days. Ginger root up to four weeks.

Purchase Form

Both can be purchased fresh.

Ginger can also be purchased as a powder, encapsulated, or as essential oils.

Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits

1. Iron in both increases the production of blood hemoglobin, prevents anemia and other blood and circulatory diseases, assists in certain enzymatic reactions, increases brain and muscle functions, and prevents fatigue and weakness. 2. B-vitamins help convert food into energy, assist in a number of hormonal and enzymatic functions, in brain and cardiac health, and in the production and repair of DNA. The minerals magnesium and phosphorus improve bone health. Potassium is necessary for good heart health. 3. Ginger’s phytonutrients also perform some of the functions of the sunchoke rhizome such as regulating blood glucose levels to prevent type 2 diabetes, preventing oxidative stress, improving brain function, and promoting proper digestive health.

1. Jerusalem artichoke contains protein, flavonoid carotene, vitamin A, choline, and E. 2. Ginger root contains no protein, no fat, no cholesterol, and the mineral zinc. It’s rich in vitamin B6, the mineral manganese, and powerful polyphenols gingerol, shogaols, zingerone, and paradol.1a. Jerusalem artichoke’s inulin is a great prebiotic or food source for the friendly bacteria in our gut’s microbiome, helps to attain a strong immune system and a proper functioning digestive system, protects against colon cancer and type 2 diabetes (it helps maintain appropriate blood glucose levels), lowers oxidative stress, and promotes weight loss. 2a. Ginger root’s polyphenol compounds are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and carminative. They protect us from diseases such as colds, flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers (ovarian, pancreatic, prostate).

Side Effects

None

Jerusalem artichoke’s inulin fiber, an oligofructan, can affect those allergic to fructose and sucrose. Consuming ginger root can harm people who suffer from diabetes, gallstones or are on anti-clotting or blood thinning meds and calcium channel blockers. Topically, can cause skin irritations.

Side Effects

The fiber in Jerusalem artichoke can cause bloating, stomachache, flatulence, and diarrhea in those with delicate digestive systems. It can also affect people with fructose and sucrose allergies.

Ginger root can also cause upset stomach, flatulence, heartburn, or diarrhea. People who suffer from diabetes, gallstones or are on anti-clotting or blood thinning meds and calcium channel blockers like warfarin and Amlodipine should avoid using this rhizome. Topically, ginger root can cause skin irritations.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Beverley Byer

Comments

Beverley Byer (author) from United States of America on November 26, 2019:

Thanks for your comments, Dora!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 25, 2019:

Thanks for the information and the comparison on these two plants. They are really so similar in nutrients and usage. Glad that we have access to other sources of fiber since the ginger with which we are familiar has less than the Jerusalem artichokes. Interesting and helpful.