Growing up, my father put turmeric on everything, from eggs to pasta. It was such a common spice in my household that I thought everyone used it as much as we did. Until I went away to college, I never realized how diverse this spice actually was. To my astonishment, none of my roommates have ever seen it in real life, let alone tasted it, and have only heard of it through social media. Now, it is one of the most popular spices as it is popping up everywhere for its abundant nutritious properties.
Turmeric is a yellow root that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used for over 4,000 years. It grows in India and Southeast Asian countries. Turmeric contains a compound called curcuminoids and the active substance in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol that has many health benefits. The amount of curcumin in turmeric varies from species to species, growing conditions, and timing of growth and harvest. Many studies look at the health benefits of curcumin itself instead of the whole turmeric. Turmeric has much more beneficial qualities than its popular active substance.
Health benefits of turmeric:
- Inflammation: Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory substance. Chronic inflammation can stress the body, causing your body to age more quickly and lead to many health problems including a poor immune system. It causes wrinkles and forces your organs to not work as well as they should. Similarly, consuming turmeric daily can help reduce arthritis pain caused by inflammation.
- Decreased cancer risk: Since the spice is a natural anti-inflammatory, it has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. It can halt the growth of blood vessels in tumors, reducing the risk of cancer spreading throughout the body.
- Detoxifies the body: Turmeric has been shown to improve liver function and reduce toxicity in the body. The antioxidants in turmeric can remove toxic materials and reduce ailments in the liver.
- Natural pain reliever: the curcuminoids in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, while curcumin is a natural pain reliever. It has been used for centuries as a topical agent; however, it does stain clothes and skin. It is also more effective when mixed with black pepper since the pepper helps your body absorb the curcumin.
- Weight loss: curcumin has been shown to speed metabolism and aid digestion, while also detoxifying the body. It has also been shown to prevent fat accumulation in adipose tissue, reducing weight gain.
You can purchase turmeric in powder form, capsules, and tablets. It is ideal to look for products that state 95 percent curcuminoids. I use turmeric in my cooking rather than taking it in capsule or tablet form. Turmeric root that is purchased from the grocery store can also be juiced or added to smoothies. It goes great when sautéing onions and other vegetables.