Wining & Dining
5/5/2017 2:15:01 PM

Tumeric has been trending lately, and it’s no surprise. This yellow-gold spice, used for over 4000 years in Asia and India, is a key ingredient in curry and purportedly boasts numerous health benefits. But first, let’s talk about taste and how to use this versatile spice.

Tumeric grows as a root, similar to ginger. It has a pungent, bitter flavor, with aromas of orange and ginger. It is often added to mustard blends and relishes, and can be substituted for saffron. Basically, turmeric can be added to most anything in small doses – a dash in your morning tea or coffee, a tablespoon in meatloaf, a sprinkle in chili . . . you get the idea. It also works great in juices and smoothies. In addition to the powdered spice and fresh grated root, tumeric is also available in supplement form.

Now about those health benefits. To read the laundry list of tumeric’s health claims, one might think of a traveling snake oil salesman – can it really cure everything?! With tumeric’s key compound curcumin, this spice packs a big anti-inflammatory wallop. Curcumin accounts for the majority of turmeric’s healing powers. Here is a list of healthy benefits that have been proven in documented studies.

  • Eases joint pain or arthritis. One study found that turmeric extract supplements worked just as well as ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
  • Cancer fighter. These studies are in the early stages, but curcumin has been found to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells in lab and animal testing.
  • Brain protector. The turmeric compound ar-turmerone has been found to repair stem cells in the brain, potentially benefiting brain diseases such as stroke and Alzheimer’s.
  • Postpone diabetes. Among people with prediabetes, curcumin capsules were found to delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
  • May thwart heart attacks. One study showed a 65 percent lower chance of heart attack among post-op cardiac bypass patients.
  • Relieve heartburn and upset stomach. Tumeric may aid digestion, again, due to its power to fight inflammation.
  • Lessen or prevent depression. A study of sixty depressed patients showed that curcumin was as effective as Prozac in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

Note: Most of the studies on this spice use turmeric extracts that contain primarily curcumin, with dosages usually exceeding one gram per day. It would be very difficult to attain these levels only using turmeric in your food. But it can’t hurt. So go ahead and get creative with turmeric and spice up both your palate and your health!

Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend




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