Turmeric is a commonly used spice that originates from the Curcuma plant. We most likely know it for its spiciness and use in dishes such as curry.
However, Turmeric has been extensively used within Chinese and Indian cultures, including as an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is best consumed in its pure sense with some black pepper, rather than as a component of curry powder. Research has found that consuming black pepper (piperine) with curcumin increases its bioavailability.
As a child, Turmeric was added to milk and even made into a balm for sprained ankles!
However, the Western world has been slow to notice the health benefits of turmeric, some of which are outlined below.
Turmeric has long been used for its anti-inflammatory properties in Eastern cultures; this helps the body to fight infection and repair itself. It is the oil that the turmeric provides that has the scientifically proven anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Curcumin, the oil derived from turmeric, has been studied in numerous experiments, and has been shown to be equally as effective as typical anti-inflammatory drugs. The key difference is there are no side effects associated with curcumin oil. This is good news for those who suffer from joint conditions, such as arthritis, where inflammation plays a key role in exacerbating chronic pain.
Turmeric has also been shown to help with the common conditions of indigestion and heartburn. These are frequently experienced by individuals and can be incredibly frustrating and uncomfortable.
Turmeric stimulates the gallbladder and increases bile production; in Germany, turmeric is prescribed for such problems.
Studies have shown that there is a protective effect of turmeric on the heart. Initial research shows that turmeric can help to reduce the build-up of plaque in the heart, a key contributor to heart attacks. Turmeric may help to prevent oxidized cholesterol, which is what damages blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels are a critical factor in many heart diseases, such as health attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
Turmeric has been shown to have important antioxidant properties, which may help to protect cells against cancer. Turmeric can help to protect vulnerable cells against free radicals, which can be harmful to the body.
High cholesterol is a common disorder and has been linked to many different, some serious, disorders. One study conducted in rabbits fed a high-fat diet showed that turmeric appeared to lower LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides, as well as preventing LDL from being oxidized. Oxidized LDL has been shown to contribute to the formation of atherosclerosis. The cholesterol-lowering effects of turmeric have remained consistent in these studies. Source.
Turmeric in dried spice form can add loads of flavor to curries, stews, stir-fries and roasted meat and chicken.Fresh turmeric is a root that looks much like fresh ginger. It can be juiced along with other fruits and vegetables. It can be added to smoothies.It makes a great addition to a chicken marinade adding a bright orange color to the mix; it is a key ingredient in Middle Eastern chicken kabobs.Use it to substitute saffron or mustard as it provides an equal yellow hue.
Everyone should seek medical advice before adding extra turmeric to their diet and sometimes it may actually have negative effects for some people, for example, its ability to slow blood clotting could be dangerous for anyone taking anticoagulant medication or going for surgery. If in doubt, speak to your medical professional.