Cinnamon always sneaks into my morning smoothies or snacks, but turmeric is the spice I add to most of my dinners. If you’ve never used turmeric before, run to the store and grab your first bottle. You’ll want to after reading out how spectacular it is for your health.
Turmeric is one of the ingredients found in curry powder, and it is a traditional Indian spice. In fact, in India, they regard it as the “holy spice.” Turmeric is a root, much like ginger, and it is ground up into a spice. It has a mild, earthy flavor, but it does add a bright yellow color to your food. Let it color your food, but be careful – it can stain.
Turmeric’s active ingredient – curcumin – is anti-inflammatory, and limiting inflammation in your body is a key goal to preventing disease. Turmeric is the spice, but curcumin can be found in supplement form. I always prefer food first, but curcumin supplementation has been used therapeutically in various health conditions. Here are a few ways it boosts your health.
- Anti-inflammatory. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit enzymes involved in the inflammatory response in order to limit and stop inflammation. Less inflammation keeps your body happy and healthy.
- Arthritis. Arthritis is related to inflammation within the body. One study looked at curcumin for osteoarthritis patients and found a 58% decrease in overall and stiffness in the curcumin group! They found a drop in inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein), and patients were able to decrease their use of anti-inflammatory medications.
- Alzheimer’s Disease. India has some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s Disease in the world, and it’s hypothesized that turmeric – as part of daily curries – may be a protective factor.
- Cancer. In animal studies, curcumin has been shown to inhibit the growth of melanoma and stop the spread of other cancers. Of course, this is an animal study, and there are many factors influencing cancer growth, but adding turmeric is an easy way to potentially inhibit the growth of skin cancer.
Turmeric can be added to numerous dishes.
- Curries. It obviously is a main ingredient in curry, so buying curry powder, or making your own curry powder will include turmeric.
- Soups & Stews
- Stirfries or Sauteed Vegetables. With dinner, I usually saute various vegetables and greens and mix in some turmeric or other spices in the cupboard. Cooking is all about creativity – just mix and match until you find a combination you like.
- Egg or tuna salad
- Turmeric Roasted cauliflower. This is delicious! Just mix some cauliflower with olive oil & turmeric and roast.
- Turmeric Tea. I would love to try turmeric tea sometime. Here’s a recipe if you want to try a potent anti-inflammatory tea.
- Homemade Salad Dressing. Check out this one with avocado, lemon, & honey.
To get the most out of turmeric, add a little black pepper to the dish you’re cooking. The compound piperine found in black pepper has been shown to increase the absorption of the active compound curcumin.
Now, I’m craving curry! If you’ve never tried a curry before, you’re missing out. My two favorites are a spicy Thai coconut milk curry with shrimp and an Indian Channa Masala (chickpeas). Yum!
Have you ever used turmeric before?