the real deal or just a bunch of hype?
Is it really as beneficial as some people claim? We have several family members and friends who have dealt with arthritis and cancer who have asked...what is the deal with turmeric?
We are here to tell you why you need to get to know this powerful mellow yellow spice!
First, how do you say it?
It is pronounced TER-muh-rihk (although you are likely to hear many different pronunciations).
What is it?
Turmeric was first cultivated in India (it is known as the "golden spice of India" or "Indian saffron") and Southeast Asia -- it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years! The golden root of the turmeric herb is part of the same family as ginger. It even looks like ginger, but turns things a vibrant orange-yellow color...so beware, it can easily stain!
Some describe the taste as slightly bitter or pungent…others say it is a little spicy. Turmeric is the main ingredient in curry dishes and is commonly used as food coloring in dairy products, baked goods, ice cream, beverages, cereals and more. If you see banana or lemon-flavored foods, chances are that turmeric helps provide the color. The newly-reformulated cheese packet in Kraft mac & cheese uses turmeric for its distinctive color. It is also the reason ballpark mustard is yellow!
Why should we include it in our routine?
One of the most potent and well-studied components of turmeric is curcumin. There are thousands of scientific studies on curcumin and its anti-inflammatory effects. Reducing inflammation in one of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of the chronic diseases that have become so prevalent in our society. There is a long list of health benefits associated with turmeric…here are a few:
- Includes beneficial nutrients such as vitamins B6 and C, fiber, magnesium, iron and potassium.
- Relieves arthritis and joint pain.
- Powerful cancer fighter…it does this in a variety of ways, including activating an anti-cancer enzyme in the liver, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells. It has also been shown to prevent cancer cells from forming in the first place.
- Helps prevent heart disease by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and preventing the oxidation of cholesterol in our bodies.
- It has been shown to be as effective as some medications in treating depression.
- Evidence exists that it helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
- It is even used in the cosmetic industry to help remedy skin conditions such as acne.
Now that is one powerful spice!
How do we include it in our routine?
You can easily add it to sautéed vegetables like onions, potatoes, or cauliflower. You can also add it to your favorite veggie dip, rice, eggs, lentils, smoothies, roasted veggies, or mix it into your salad dressing!
Turmeric pairs especially well with fish, roasted chicken, chili, and of course, most Thai or curry dishes. For a higher curcumin content, you can use turmeric instead of, or in addition to, curry powder in your recipes. Of course, we have included a number of great meals ideas below!
Turmeric on its own isn’t enough!
TURMERIC + FAT + BLACK PEPPER = HUGE HEALTH BENEFITS!
Studies have shown that adding black pepper with turmeric DRAMATICALLY increase its bioavailability by as much as 1,000x!
Turmeric is also fat-soluble, so in order to get the benefits of this super spice, you need to consume it with some fat. This can be olive or coconut oil (such as with sautéed or roasted veggies), or with an egg, avocado or milk (with full or part fat). Remember to sprinkle black pepper on those eggs too!
Is it best to get turmeric from food or supplements?
Different people will provide different answers to this question. Based on everything we have read and people we have talked to, our view is it is best to get the benefits from our food. We enjoy the flavor and can prepare it in a way where it is absorbed by our bodies (including a little fat and black pepper). If you don’t like the taste or cannot get enough of it in your diet, then you can consider taking turmeric in supplement form. To get the benefit from a supplement, it should contain at least 95% standardized curcumin, with no preservatives or artificial colors. Ideally, it should contain black pepper extract or piperine to help with absorption (or just down a few black pepper seeds with your supplement!). As with any supplements, it is possible to get too much of a good thing, so make sure to get good guidance on the appropriate dose.
Some should use caution with turmeric...
- If you are pregnant, consuming turmeric can stimulate the uterus and raise the risk of miscarriage. Pregnant women shouldn’t use it without talking to their doctors first.
- Turmeric also stimulates the liver and gallbladder, so if you have gallstones, use caution.
- Turmeric can also increase the risk of bleeding, so if you are taking medications or have specific health conditions, it is best to talk to your doctor before you start adding it to your routine.
Now for some great-tasting meal ideas with turmeric!
- Turmeric Pork and Cabbage Skillet
- White Castle Inspired Burgers
- Slow Cooker Brazilian Style Chicken
- One Pot Moroccan Vegetable Curry
- Curry Spiced Kale Chips
- Indian Inspired Chicken Kabobs
- Curry Roasted Cauliflower
- Apple Carrot and Pecan Curry Slaw
- Tuna Lettuce Wraps with Mango and Jalapeño
Make sure you are getting all the benefits turmeric has to offer! We would love to hear your favorite ways to incorporate turmeric into your routine!