What is Turmeric
With its bright color and mellow flavor, turmeric is a major ingredient in curry powder and is used in many Thai, Indian, Persian and Pakistani meals. Whether you use a fresh turmeric root or turmeric powder, you can be sure that you’re contributing to your overall health. Not only does it boast the powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it is also an incredibly strong antioxidant. Today we’ll help you to find out more about turmeric and its amazing health benefits. Trust us, you will want to add this incredible spice to your eating plan after reading this article.
The History of Turmeric
Turmeric is native to Southern India and Indonesia, where it’s been harvested, consumed and used in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia for over 5,000 years.
Turmeric has a long and rich history dating back about 4000 years and was first emerged as a crucial part of Ayurvedic medicine in 500 BC. It was used as a dye and culinary spice, and even had a religious significance in the Vedic culture, in India.
It’s believed turmeric reached China by around 700 AD, East and West Africa by around 800 AD to 1200 AD, Europe in the 13th century and Jamaica in the 18th century. Despite its long history, turmeric has been introduced to Western countries only in recent years but it has already become one of the most popular spices that people use in so many different ways – from adding to meals to healing the bodies.
Is Turmeric More Superior than Medication?
The curcumin is a main phytochemical found in turmeric that makes it so powerful. Yet, curcumin isn’t the only active anti-inflammatory agent that ensures the health benefits. All the components found in turmeric interact well with other processes and chemicals in the body, providing the healing properties.
More than 9,000 studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=curcumin) have been conducted to prove that turmeric is more superior than most leading drugs, including:
Anti-inflammatory drugs – curcumin found in turmeric has been reported to have more potent anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory properties than ibuprofen and aspirin.
Cholesterol medication – a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19151449) showed that curcumin not only has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but also provides the epithelial function and reduce bad LDL and helps to keep the cholesterol levels in check, making it as effective as atorvastatin.
Antidepressants – a research published in Phytotherapy Research found that turmeric may be used as a safe and effective natural remedy for treating depression. It helps the brain heal itself, fight inflammation and improve plant-based omega-3s absorption, unlike antidepressants that often cause the patients to have “suicidal thoughts.”
Blood thinners – A well-known blood thinner, aspirin, increases the risk for developing ulcers or the stomach lining deterioration. On the other hand, curcumin that has been found to be an excellent anticoagulant can help to prevent blood clots (thrombosis).
Arthritis medication – a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22407780/) found that curcumin works just as well as arthritis medications without any adverse events. Turmeric is a wonderful source of curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and desmethoxycurcumin – three important curcuminoids that provide anti-arthritic effects.
Steroid medication – corticosteroids, like Dexamethasone, are usually prescribed for inflammation-related conditions such as asthma, arthritis, and skin irritation. A study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18379247) showed that curcumin is as effective in fighting inflammation as corticosteroids.
Diabetes drugs – Turmeric helps to control blood sugar, improve glucose intake by the liver and suppress glucose production, thus reducing the risk for the long-term diabetes complications, according to a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19665995). Another study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476912/) found that consuming turmeric regularly can also prevent the development of diabetes in prediabetics.
Chemotherapy drugs – Oxaliplatin is one of the most powerful and common chemotherapy drugs used to combat aggressive cancers, including colorectal cancer. It’s usually combined with some other cancer medicines to boost its effectiveness and is given to patients intravenously. According to a study published in 2007, in the International Journal of Cancer, curcumin may be as effective as Oxaliplatin in treating cancer.
Burn ointment – Turmeric has wonderful healing properties that help to cure burns and surface wounds. A number of studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23902423) showed that curcumin is a natural pharmacotherapeutic that helps to fight infection and control both severe burn pain and promote wound healing.
Painkillers – Painkillers cause a serious liver damage, and in some cases, addiction. Turmeric has potent analgesic properties, making it a healthy alternative to over-the-counter pain killers.
10 Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric
Consuming one of the most nutritionally dense plants on the planet is a simple way to live a longer life. If you’re not using turmeric in your meals yet, consider these 10 awesome health benefits you can reap from it.
Protect your liver
Turmeric works as a natural liver detoxifier. Curcumin has been known for its anti-inflammatory properties for centuries and this fact has been studied by modern researchers for a few years now. One experimental study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20332524) suggests that curcumin can help to delay the liver damage that leads to cirrhosis and protect the liver against potential injury, which is particularly important today when we tend to eat fast and processed foods.
Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Epidemiologists have suggested that consuming turmeric regularly can significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. That explains why people in India (age – 70 to 79) have a very low rate of Alzheimer’s disease. The thing is, turmeric helps to remove amyloid plaque buildup in your brain, slowing down the Alzheimer’s disease progression.
Reduce the cancer risk
Multiple researchers have studied the anti-cancer properties of turmeric and found that turmeric can help to destroy cancer cells, prevent prostate cancer, and even stop the development of existing prostate cancer. Turmeric contains the active components, which protect against radiation-induced tumors and delay or prevent the growth of tumor cells, including breast carcinomas, T-cell leukemia, and colon carcinomas.
Turmeric’s antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial agents help to boost the immune system. If you often suffer from colds, flu, and chronic coughs, try incorporating turmeric into your eating plan. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk and drink once a day to strengthen your immune system.
A great number of studies show that a regular consumption of turmeric helps to lower cholesterol levels naturally. It’s crucial to keep a healthy cholesterol level to prevent heart disease and other serious health problems.
Improve digestion and reduce bloating
The components found in turmeric promote the bile production in the gallbladder, which helps to improve digestion and reduce the symptoms of bloating and gas. Turmeric also helps to ward off inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis. However, if you suffer from any type of gallbladder disease, avoid taking turmeric supplements and opt for fresh turmeric root instead.
Slow down the aging process
The studies (http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server./APJCN/17%20Suppl%201/265.pdf) showed that turmeric helps to prevent DNA damage and stimulate DNA repair, preventing premature aging and overall the first signs of aging.
Ward off heart disease
While turmeric is definitely not a substitute for heart medication, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin help to keep your heart strong and healthy and reduce your risk of experiencing heart attacks.
If you’re looking for a natural way to tame your heartburn, turmeric may help. A study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2699615?dopt=Abstract) showed that turmeric plant supplements are more effective at decreasing indigestion and heartburn symptoms than a placebo. Again, that’s all thanks to powerful anti-inflammatory properties turmeric offers.
Relieve arthritic pain
Turmeric’s antioxidant content and ability to fight inflammation have been shown to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The antioxidants combat the harmful free radicals, which damage the cells, relieving arthritic pain and increasing energy levels. If you suffer from mild joint pains, consider consuming turmeric on a daily basis, but remember a visit to a doctor is a must.
The Side Effects of Turmeric
Despite all those health benefits mentioned above, turmeric does have some side effects, when taken or consumed incorrectly. High doses of turmeric or wrong supplements can lead to:
- allergic reactions
- stomach pain
- high menstrual flow
- hyperactive gallbladder contractions
- higher risk of bleeding
- reduced blood pressure (hypotension)
- high liver function tests
- uterine contractions in pregnant women
Keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t control dietary supplements, which is why it’s highly important to consult your doctor before using turmeric to heal your body, especially if you are taking any supplements or medicines.
11 Oh-So-Delicious Ways to Use Turmeric
Whether you use turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root, you can be sure that you will reap all the benefits it offers. The question is: How to increase turmeric intake without sacrificing the taste? Here are 11 of the most delicious and healthiest ways to use turmeric in your meal plan:
- vegan chickpea masala curry
- green tea (mix honey, turmeric, and ginger and add a tiny bit to your tea)
- turmeric latte
4 Healthy and Tasty Turmeric Recipes
If you’re just starting to use turmeric and have no idea what to make, here are some quick and easy recipes for you to consider:
Fight inflammation, improve your mood and increase your energy level with a comfort turmeric latte:
- 12 oz. hot green tea
- 1 tbsp. turmeric
- 12 oz. warmed coconut (or any plant) milk
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 tsp. ghee
- ⅛ tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp. ginger
- ¼ tsp. allspice
- 1 tbsp. stevia or raw honey to taste
- pinch of cinnamon, optional
Mix all the ingredients, except cinnamon, and blend until smooth. Top your latte with a pinch of cinnamon (skip this step if you don’t like cinnamon) and sip your way to a healthy you.
Fall-Inspired Turmeric Smoothie
If you’re a smoothie junkie, start your day off with some pumpkin turmeric smoothie. Don’t like pumpkin? Replace it with banana and skip pumpkin pie spice and here you go.
- 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin, chopped
- 1/3 fresh persimmon
- 1 half teaspoon dried turmeric or 1/2 inch fresh turmeric
- 1 slice fresh papaya, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 peeled orange
- 1 small carrot, lightly peeled and chopped
- pumpkin pie spice to taste
Combine the ingredients of your choice and blend until smooth. Avoid blending in a high-speed blender to preserve all the nutrients.
Ginger, Carrot and Turmeric Soup
What can be more warming than a bowl of healthy and spicy soup? Try making a ginger, carrot and turmeric soup to get the best out of three worlds.
- 1 pound carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
- 4 cups sodium-free vegetable broth
- 4 tablespoons plant yogurt
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- olive oil
- black pepper and salt to taste
Add garlic and onions with ginger, salt, turmeric and pepper to a large stockpot with olive oil and sauté for a minute. Add in sodium-free vegetable broth and chopped carrots, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until carrots are tender, for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Let your soup cool for about 30 minutes. Blend until smooth and serve topped with a tablespoon of yogurt and chives. Or, you can skip the blending process and enjoy your soup as it is.
Sunday brunch hash
This hash makes a perfect healthy breakfast, brunch, and dinner choice. You will need around 30 minutes to make this meal.
- 2 sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
- 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup black beans, canned or cooked
- 8 ounces firm tofu
- 1 stalk broccoli, cut into small chunks
- 1/4 head cabbage
- 2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 2-3 tsp sesame oil
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add in the onions, sweet potato, carrots, and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring every two minutes, for 10 to 15 minutes. Add in tofu, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Cook for a minute and add the garlic, beans, broccoli, cabbage, turmeric and keep cooking for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve with parsley.
There are many turmeric supplements available these days, but not all the supplements are the same. If you decide to take a turmeric supplement, read the label and consider the following things:
- the supplement must contain the information about the controlled clinical trials
- the supplement should contain no less than 95% of curcumin
- determine whether you need a supplement with ordinary curcumin or curcumin with enhanced bioavailability
- the supplement must be compatible with your condition
Best Turmeric Supplement
With a plethora of health benefits, it’s certainly worth adding turmeric to your meals at least once a week. Add a few pinches of turmeric to your favorite vegetable dishes, soups, beans, chili, or pasta sauce and reap the benefits it offers.