Superfood Feature: Benefits of Turmeric
By Amy Crawford
Did you know...
- That turmeric gives mustard its bright yellow colour?
- That in Indian weddings, it is ritual to spread turmeric over the bride and groom's arms?
- That women in India sometimes use turmeric to remove unwanted body hair?
- That a spoonful of turmeric added to the water in your car radiator will stop a leak (hmm.. is this true?)?
- That turmeric is found in many sunscreens and makes a great home remedy if you are burnt?
Well now you do! But there's a depth to turmeric from a health professional's perspective that extends far beyond these fast fun facts - the health benefits of turmeric make this humble spice the golden child of superfoods indeed.
Here's hoping this article influences how you look at that humble jar of yellow spice sitting pretty on your pantry shelf.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric originates from the root of the Turmeric Plant, known as Curcuma Longa. This root has a tough brown skinned exterior with a bright yellow/deep orange flesh. Warm, peppery and bitter to taste, it is mildly reminiscent of orange and ginger combined. In fact, turmeric is a relative of the ginger family, and in its fresh form the turmeric root does indeed look similar to the ginger root.
Once referred to as "Indian Saffron", turmeric has been used throughout history (reports of its use from as early as 7th Century BC in India and China) as a condiment, curry, medicine and textile dye. It is native to the tropical humid climes of South Asia, and thrives in rainfall and temperatures of between 20-30 degrees C. That being said, Northern NSW residents find themselves growing turmeric with ease, a great addition to the crops of Australia.
Why is turmeric good for you?
Well gosh, where shall I start? With more and more scientific studies conducted on this humble root, turmeric is fast emerging as a leader in the superfood stakes. Significantly, it is the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, that packs an almighty punch.
How's this for a list of benefits of turmeric :
- Turmeric offers anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and even anti-carcinogenic properties
- Can aid digestion and assist in reducing bloating and abdominal cramps
- Can reduce the accumulation of toxins and harmful bacteria in the gut, reducing the risk of bowel cancers
- Is a useful treatment of diabetes, liver diseases, arthritis, skin issues, joint and gut inflammation
- Can protect against heart disease and reduce cholesterol
- Can be used as an antibiotic on open wounds
- Can regulate menstrual disorders and purify breast milk
- Can also promote a calm mind.
How do we eat turmeric?
Add turmeric to everything! Soups, curries, casseroles, vegetable stews, vegetable patties, smoothies, juices, the list goes on.
However, it is s worth mentioning that turmeric alone, or more specifically curcumin, is not readily bioavailable in the human body. Studies have shown that by ingesting turmeric with black pepper the bioavailability is markedly improved. So, when you can, be sure to sprinkle black pepper wherever your turmeric goes.
We included a really yummy recipe for an anti-inflammatory juice in our eBook, or simply type in 'turmeric' into the search function (top right) of this website for a myriad of ways to incorporate this spice into your meals.
Where to purchase turmeric.
Turmeric is readily available in powdered form from your local supermarket or health food store.
You will also be able to find the root at your local farmer's market, at fruit and vegetable stores, or even perhaps your Asian grocer. Fresh turmeric root has a stronger, more pungent flavour than the ground powder so a small root will go a long way.
If you're not impressed by the distinct taste turmeric capsules are also available. Again, look to your health food store.
We have featured a most delicious Sweet Eggplant Pumpkin Indian Curry encompassing this wondrous ingredient and perfect for the chillier weather. Or maybe you'd prefer the Aromatic and Spicy Indian Lamb Curry?
What's your favourite way to include turmeric in your diet? Please do share in the comments below.
Fast facts listed above sourced from healthdiaries.com.