Last week we spoke about Ginger and its health benefits and this week we are staying in the family and sharing some facts about a close relative called Turmeric.

They are both roots, they have similar shapes but very different colors as well as different health benefits. They complement each other very well so can perfectly combine them for extra nutritional value and more benefits.

So… What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant, which grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries and it is a member of the ginger family. The dried root of this plant is ground into the distinctive yellow powder, giving it the name golden spice.

Why is turmeric good for you?
There are several chemical compounds found in this herb, known as curcuminoids. The active substance is curcumin. Curcumin is what makes turmeric a “functional food,” defined by the Mayo Clinic as “foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.”

One tablespoon (about seven grams) of ground turmeric contains approximately:

23.9 calories
4.4 grams carbohydrates
0.5 gram protein
0.7 gram fat
1.4 grams fiber
0.5 milligram manganese (26 percent DV)
2.8 milligrams iron (16 percent DV)
0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
170 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
1.7 milligrams vitamin C (3 percent DV)
13 milligrams magnesium (3 percent DV)

What are the health benefits of consuming Turmeric?
Practitioners in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have been prescribing turmeric and its extracts as part of holistic protocols for thousands of years. Practitioners have used it in a number of different ways, for many diseases and ailments.

Fights Inflammation
Arguably, the most powerful aspect of curcumin is its ability to control inflammation. The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.

As we all know low-grade inflammation is an thought to be an underlying cause of conditions, including:
Cancer
Heart disease
Metabolic syndrome
Alzheimer’s
And other degenerative conditions

Adding turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root to multiple things you eat throughout the day, such as sautéed veggies, curry dishes, smoothies, and “golden milk,” could be a great way to take advantage of curcumin’s health benefits. The challenge is that turmeric is only around 3% curcumin, and the bioavailability of curcumin is low – meaning our bodies aren’t able to absorb and use it very efficiently. But there are several things you can do to boost the bioavailability of the curcumin you eat.

Consuming turmeric in its whole food form (fresh or dried as a powder) can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin seven to eight times.

Adding black pepper has been found to boost curcumin’s bioavailability by 2,000%.

When consumed with fat, curcumin can bypass the liver and be directly absorbed into the lymphatic system.

How Much Turmeric Should You Eat?
Consuming turmeric appears to be beneficial for maintaining wellness and avoiding some diseases. But how much do you need?

The average Indian eats approximately half a teaspoon of turmeric per day. Many researchers believe this could be one of the reasons that, compared to the United States and Europe, India has dramatically lower rates of death from Alzheimer’s and cancer.

But turmeric is a strong-flavored spice, and eating a half-teaspoon of it per day can feel daunting to uninitiated taste buds.

For this reason, many people have started taking curcumin supplements. But it’s important to keep in mind that not all studies use the exact same curcumin formulations. One distinction that’s not often considered is the question of whether a study used curcumin exclusively or a formula that included the other components of the turmeric root. The words “turmeric” and “curcumin” are sometimes used interchangeably, as if they refer to the exact same thing. But curcumin is not the only compound in turmeric that has profound medicinal benefits. In fact, studies suggest that other compounds in turmeric could help regulate epigenetic factors as well.

So it could be that the best option is actually to take both — or to choose a full-spectrum curcumin supplement that includes the components of the raw turmeric root that are typically removed during the curcumin extraction process. It appears that the whole turmeric root’s natural components work together synergistically, and when they’re all present in a supplement, its bioavailability may be enhanced.

Why Aren’t More People Using Curcumin?
Given curcumin’s potent effects on a wide range of conditions, why aren’t more people using this remarkable natural treatment to help them address their health problems?

One reason might be the cost, though perhaps not in the way you might think. In addition to being incredibly effective, curcumin is quite affordable. You can find it dried at most grocery stores and a few of them also carry the fresh version and it’s usually located close to the Gigner on the produce section.

But doctors have been slow to embrace this powerful medicinal plant substance.

According to Dr. Aggarwal, some doctors simply struggle to believe that curcumin can perform as well as (or better than!) drugs that cost $45,000 to $50,000 per dose. He also predicts that pharmaceutical companies will be the biggest impediment to the widespread use of curcumin since they won’t be able to profit from it in the way they profit from costly treatments like chemotherapy.

Curcumin may not be healthy for pharmaceutical companies’ profit margins, but consuming turmeric, and/or incorporating a high-quality curcumin source into your wellness regimen, may certainly benefit your health.

A Word of Caution:
Turmeric is a natural blood thinner. If you’re currently taking blood-thinning medications, are pregnant, have gallstones, or are susceptible to kidney stones, you may want to moderate your turmeric consumption or take it under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

In our kitchen we use turmeric in a variety of dishes, from curries to soups to salad dressings.

Here is one of my favorite recipes using Turmeric, perfect for breakfast or mid afternoon break.

GOLDEN MILK

Ingredients:
22 oz milk
1 tbsp date sugar
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ – 1 heaping tbsp ground turmeric, to taste
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preparation:
Place milk, date sugar, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, and vanilla in a pot. Mix well and heat up until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy warm.

I love cardamom, it simply transports me to a different world, and I think in this recipe plays a big role. Also, the black pepper will let your body take more advantage of the health benefits of curcumin.

If you make this recipe at home, please share with us how you like it. Take some pictures and tag us on social media @chefveronica

Cheers to a healthy journey and tons of nutritional benefits!!

Information based on the following articles:

Turmeric and Curcumin Benefits: Can This Herb Really Combat Disease?

How Curcumin Can Help You Hack Your Genes And Avoid Disease

 

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