Turmeric, otherwise known as the “Indian saffron” or Curcuma longa, is an anti-inflammatory herb known to be rich in nutritional value.
The herb, which is widely popular in India, has been extensively used in various cuisines and disease treatments then and now. But the problem is, not a lot of people are aware of turmeric's vast health benefits.
If you want to know more about this nutritional powerhouse, read on. We’ll discuss turmeric’s uses and health potentials, and how you can include it in your healthy meal plans!
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an ancient spice that looks like its cousin ginger. It is often referred to as the “Indian saffron” due to its beautiful golden color.
The parts of the rhizome such as the roots, leaves, and flowers are said to contain medicinal properties.
Turmeric also contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which is best known for its anti-inflammatory qualities.
The root vegetable’s common byproduct, meantime, is the turmeric powder. It is formed by drying chopped turmeric and grinding it into fine crumbs.
Today, turmeric powder is usually used as a spice in various recipes.
Turmeric: Interesting Facts
Turmeric is known as India’s golden spice.
India is not only the largest producer of turmeric in the world but the biggest turmeric exporter as well. Sixty percent of the world’s total turmeric export comes from India.
Turmeric paste can be used for hair removal! Indian women traditionally used turmeric paste to get rid of unwanted body hair and inhibit their growth.
What are the Uses of Turmeric?
Turmeric has been widely used during ancient times for various purposes. From being used as foodstuff to medicine and even cosmetics, the root vegetable proves to be a versatile superfood.
Turmeric as a food
Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries basically use turmeric as a spice. In many instances, it’s used to give curry its distinct flavor and yellow color.
It is also used as a food colorant for butter, and cheese among others.
Due to the Indian influence, Ethiopian cuisine also made use of turmeric in their dishes. Meantime in South Africa, the root vegetable is used to bring a golden color to the white rice.
That's not all:
Turmeric is also used in dairy products, cakes, ice cream, popcorn, cereals, canned drinks, icings, gelatins, yogurt, and sauces.
The Asian and Eastern cuisine also favor the use of turmeric in sweet and savory meals.
Turmeric in alternative therapies
In the United States alone, more than $650 million is spent on these botanical options such as turmeric.
For centuries, people have been using certain plants in traditional medicine due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric as an herbal medicine
People also use turmeric as an herbal medicine for smallpox, chicken pox, liver ailments, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, and chronic anterior uveitis.
The rhizome is also used to ease menstrual difficulties and abdominal pain, treat digestive disorders and reduce jaundice and flatus.
What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?
Many studies reveal that turmeric has abundant benefits for your mind and body. Below are some of them:
Turmeric improves gut health
Turmeric likewise promotes gut health. A study conducted on lab rats showed that curcumin can regulate gut microbiota.
In humans, both turmeric and curcumin also drove gut microbiota changes, which explains its role in the treatment of several bowel conditions such as colitis.
Turmeric fights inflammation
Many health complications are caused by inflammation. Inflammation can lead to cognitive decline, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer.
The anti-inflammatory benefits contained in turmeric provides a protective effect for your body.
A systematic review of the literature related to the safety and anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, supported turmeric’s ability to prevent inflammation.
It concluded that curcumin is safe for human consumption and that it prevents various molecules from causing inflammation on the body.
Turmeric combats free-radical damage
Turmeric was also found to boost the body’s antioxidant capacity and prevent damage caused by free radicals.
This helps to improve immunity and cognitive function and eliminate free radicals that play a role in certain cancers. The antioxidant properties found in curcumin are beneficial for skin protection as well.
Turmeric improves your immune system
Curcumin was also found to be a potent immunomodulatory agent that helps regulate the activation of certain cells and deregulate pro-inflammatory cytokines.
The curcumin’s ability to regulate immunity is said to benefit certain diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergy, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and even cancer.
And even at low doses, curcumin consumption can still improve antibody responses. These findings also suggest that curcumin can help treat immune disorders.
Turmeric helps avoid neurodegenerative diseases
Not only can turmeric help your heart and body but can benefit your brain, too.
It was found that the active ingredient found in turmeric can also be used to prevent and enhance the conditions of neurodegenerative diseases.
Turmeric promotes brain health
Studies were also conducted on the potential of curcumin to enhance cognitive function.
This is attributed to its ability to boost and support robust levels of a hormone known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This hormone is essential in long-term brain health.
Turmeric prevents and helps treat cancer
The role of turmeric and curcumin in preventing and treating certain cancers has been extensively researched over the past decades. And many studies established promising results.
Several research findings showed that curcumin has chemo-preventive effects, and suggested that it could also be used as an effective agent for chemoprevention.
Turmeric promotes heart health
Turmeric and its active component, curcumin, have been discovered to promote heart health, too.
Curcumin, more specifically, contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic properties that produce a protective effect on the cardiovascular system.
It is not only able to guard your heart against free radical damage but reduce inflammation and improve endothelial function as well.
Turmeric eases joint pain
A systematic review was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of turmeric and curcumin in relieving the symptoms of arthritis. The review concluded that curcumin can be used in conventional therapies to treat arthritis.
Evidence was also found to back curcumin’s potential in becoming an approved therapy for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Turmeric enhances your mood
Curcumin was also discovered to have an impact on BDNF, suggesting the possibility of using curcumin to treat depression by preventing damaging brain changes.
Several studies were also conducted on curcumin’s potential to raise the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which play a role in mood regulation.
How Can You Add Turmeric to Your Diet?
Fortunately for all of us, we can enjoy the generous turmeric health benefits by incorporating the root vegetable or its powder form into our diets.
Below are some excellent ways on how to use turmeric in your meals:
Add turmeric to your frittatas or scrambles
If you’re unfamiliar with turmeric, this is a great place to start. Simply add a pinch of turmeric to your scrambled eggs, tofu scramble or frittata.
The turmeric will add a nice color and subtle flavor to your frittatas and scrambles.
Use turmeric as a rice colorant
Want to take your meals up a notch? Why not make a rice pilaf using turmeric? Doing this is quite simple. You only need to add turmeric to your rice and stir it to coat.
Toss turmeric with some crunchy veggies
Turmeric is known as a spice due to its peppery taste. Its distinct flavor will give your salad more character. Toss it with crunchy vegetables like cauliflower, root veggies, and potatoes.
Add turmeric to your soups
Add a dash of turmeric to your soups and you’ll get a warm, yummy, golden treat.
Mix turmeric in your smoothie
Turmeric roots give your juices and smoothies an excellent boost, and turmeric powders work just as great.
You can mix a pinch of turmeric powder in your smoothie. Its modest pungent taste can be well-masked in your drink.
You can find various turmeric powders on the market today such as the Feel Good Organic Turmeric Powder. Many users agree that this particular turmeric powder should be a kitchen staple.
While turmeric powder is generally nutrient-dense, some by-products are simply better than the others.
The Feel Good turmeric powder, which is directly imported from India, boasts of rich color and taste. But aside from its excellent quality, users of this product attested that it indeed boosts their health.
So, if you’re looking for an excellent turmeric powder to mix with your smoothie and other dishes, you can consider this highly recommended product!
Turmeric is a great source of health benefits; thanks to its active ingredient curcumin. Luckily, we can add it to our nutritious diet in more ways than one.
It is, however, essential to take caution if you want to use turmeric as an alternative therapy. It’s best to consult with your physician first before you use it as a treatment for whatever health condition you may have.