Turmeric Spice Benefits
Turmeric is a spice that comes from a root plant very similar to ginger, and is in fact in the ginger family. Like ginger, turmeric is a rhizome, which means that it is a mass of roots. Each plant stores its nutrients in the rhizome so that every piece can produce a new plant. Pretty cool, eh? The plant is commonly grown in southern Asia, and has been part of the Asian culture for more than a thousand years, which explains why it is so prominent in the Indian, Pakistani and Indonesian cuisines. It is a major ingredient in curry dishes, and the Turmeric root has many health benefits, so learn to love yellow! (1, 2)
Turmeric is very simple to prepare if you can find the fresh root. Gourmet grocery chains carry whole yellow turmeric root, and both yellow turmeric and white are quite easy to order over the internet. With prices ranging from $10 to $20, a nice 1 pound supply will last a month in your fridge if stored properly. Speaking of which, store ground turmeric in a dark, cool cabinet or spice rack (away from direct light). For the fresh root, layer an air-tight container with clean dry paper towels. Arrange each layer of roots with paper towels, and be sure to change the paper towels as they become damp, to keep the roots from molding.
Turmeric is a gorgeous golden wonder in the healing world and is used as a kick-ass anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, and anti-depressant since ancient times. The main component in turmeric, curcumin, has amazing anti-cancer properties and has been known to help to inhibit prostate, skin, colon, mouth, esophageal, lung, stomach, pancreatic, liver, and breast cancer. Adding turmeric to your diet can have many advantages for your health. (3)
Turmeric is also available as a supplement in various forms such as powder, and liquid extract. While using turmeric in food is perfectly safe, you’ll need to talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements. There is a chance it may lower blood sugar, which can cause problems if you’re taking diabetes medication, and there are some reports that it also acts as a blood thinner, interacting with blood-thinning medication. So just like anything else, do your due diligence!
<<This is the organic turmeric powder that’s been rockin’ my world>>
A major role curcumin plays in the body is as an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is responsible for a large number of chronic illnesses such as arthritis, lupus and diabetes, as well as skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. So, inflammation is caused by the body sensing an issue, or an irritation to certain areas of the body which become inflamed and painful, and — bingo! — inflammation! However, inflammation causes damage if it is not dealt with quickly enough, and that damage can cause more inflammation, in a kind of domino effect. Poor diet is one cause of chronic inflammation, so it stands to reason that a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric would assist to cure it. Curcumin is one of the most powerful substances that can fight inflammation; in fact, it has been shown to be as effective if not more so than standard anti-inflammatory medication, as it has no side effects. (4, 5)
According to turmeric.com, this spice has antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties that could make it a natural herbal alternative to fight infections, such as the common cold, eye infections, food poisoning, tooth aches, herpes, ear infections, staph infections, and insect bites! Try using turmeric paste on skin wounds in order to heal them. As turmeric is anti-bacterial, it will kill the bacteria found in cuts, and prevent new bacteria from growing. It can also close up the wound and stop it from bleeding. (6)
Studies show that turmeric can have an effect on the fat in your diet. The antioxidants found in turmeric can lower the body’s natural insulin response to meals high in fat, reducing oxidative stress and reducing the risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. (7) Turmeric also stimulates bile and gallbladder function, which improves fat digestion! Bring it on! And as an added bonus, turmeric stops those awful stomach spasms and cramps. Some of the natural compounds in turmeric are also helpful in relieving acid reflux. Traditional herbal medicines suggest drinking raw turmeric juice to relieve both indigestion and heartburn. (8)
To me, this is the big kahuna. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, helps prevent several forms of cancer including breast, lung, stomach, liver, and colon, because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric interferes with an enzyme that causes inflammation which can lead to cancer. It starves cancer cells of their oxygen and fuel source. And if that’s not enough, it prevents regrowth of cancer stem cells. The obvious question is how much curcumin would someone safely be able to take, and in a trial study, participants took 3.6 grams, considered a high dose, but without any ill effects. Curcumin is not well absorbed in the blood but absorbs well into the colon lining, providing an advantage against cancerous tissues in the colon. It can also help prevent prostate cancer because it interferes with the spread of cancer cells and inflammation that is a precursor of cancer development.
Before you run out and pour Turmeric on everything you eat, please understand that these studies have only been recognized by the medical community within the past 10 years — but more and more, researchers are conducting trials on this amazing spice.
How to use turmeric for coughs, colds and ear infections
- One clove garlic, chopped
- One cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
Add chopped garlic to milk and pour into a small pot. Bring to a boil. Add turmeric and drink while warm. It will taste like a garlicky, cream-based soup!
- Mix equal parts of turmeric, goldenseal and echinacea (dried powdered herbs)
- Steep 1/2 teaspoon of herbal mix in hot water for a soothing tea, or take mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Mix together equal parts of turmeric, ginger, and celery seed.
- Steep 1/2 teaspoon of herbal mix in hot water for a soothing tea. Breathe in the steam to help release congestion.
Cooking with Turmeric
Turmeric is simple to cook with, but it has to be eaten warm in a dish that contains healthy fats, to unleash the full potency — since many of the vital compounds are fat-soluble. If you’re using the whole root, peel the skin off with a potato peeler and finely mince as you would with ginger root. Saute with carrots, onions, celery, for any recipes that use cooked vegetables (like soups, stir-frys, chilies, stews).
If you’d prefer mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, add finely grated turmeric (1 teaspoon for every two potatoes). For the ground dried turmeric, add a pinch to salad dressings, or mix in to your marinara or hot sauce.
If you love smoothies like me, turmeric is the ideal booster to add to your smoothie repertoire. Orange turmeric pairs well with orange, pink or red superfoods like carrot, pumpkin, red bell pepper, raspberries, goji berries and citrus. Add 1 teaspoon of the minced root or 1/8 teaspoon ground to your smoothie ingredient list and blend away. Add finely grated or powdered turmeric to hot teas, coffee drinks, and low-sugar fruit juices like grapefruit and unsweetened cranberry.
Tropical Carrot, Ginger, And Turmeric Smoothie
(Makes about 2 cups)
- 1 blood or navel orange, peel and white pith removed
- 1 large carrot, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup frozen mango chunks
- ⅔ cup coconut water or just plain ole’ water
- 1 tablespoon shelled raw hemp seeds
- ¾ teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
- 1½ teaspoons finely grated peeled turmeric
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
Using smoothie or ice crush setting, purée all ingredients, a pinch of salt, and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth. Healthy deliciousness!
Turmeric Hot Chocolate
This hot chocolate is bursting with antioxidant-rich cocoa and spices!
1 cup nut milk (plain unsweetened almond milk or oat milk)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder
2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice such as honey, brown sugar, or stevia
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon finely grated, peeled turmeric root
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the milk, cocoa powder, sweetener, turmeric, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the cocoa and spices are mixed well and the mixture is warm. (11) So soothing and warming!
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried any health-boosting recipes with turmeric!