We all know how delicious turmeric tastes but there is a lot more to the story of this humble spice that has been used for thousands of years. This spice can have powerful implications on your health.
Turmeric comes from the root Curcuma longa which is a plant from the ginger family. It’s native to Southern Asia has a distinctive orange color and tough brown skin.
It just might be one of the most popular spices in the world. If you are a fan of Asian or Middle Eastern cuisine than you are already quite familiar the warm and peppery flavor. It’s also the main spice in curry powder (a personal favorite) and it’s what gives some mustards that bright yellow color.
I hear a lot of “so called” uses for turmeric. So what does it actually do? What does the science say?
Inflamed muscles and joints cause most of the pain we carry around every day. If left unchecked this chronic inflammation can lead to a list of serious health issues (Type 2 diabetes, heart disease). (1)
Curcumin has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect which eases swelling and aches and pains. Some studies have found that it’s as effective an anti-inflammatory as pain pills, like aspirin and ibuprofen. (2)
Oxidative stress happens when free radicals overwhelm your body’s natural antioxidant defences. This imbalance and the resulting damage can lead to premature aging. (3)
Free radicals = bad
Premature aging = worse
Strengthens Immune System
One journal said that Turmeric Curcumin can enhance antibody response. It can also act as a treatment of immune disorders. It’s inhibited growth of histamine-producing bacteria. (4) As well as inhibited growth of a food-borne pathogen. (5)
Improves Heart Health
Curcumin can help keep our hearts strong and healthy. It helps strengthen the lining of our blood vessels which is important because this endothelial dysfunction is a major contributor to heart disease. (6)
Reduces Symptoms of Depression
Curcumin can help boost your mood. Studies in mice found that increased their serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. (7) A 2014 study in the journal Phytotherapy Research divided 60 volunteers with major depressive disorders into two groups. One was given Prozac the other was given curcumin. The curcumin group was just as successful in managing their systems as the pill group. (8)
Can we just season our foods with turmeric to reap the rewards? Well it certainly won’t hurt you’ll need to do a bit more. This is because the turmeric root only contains between 2 and 5 percent curcumin. Basically you’d have to use the powder at every meal to make a difference. To get all the health benefits of turmeric you want to consider supplementing. One of the things to look for is bioavailability. Even if you consume a good amount of it that doesn’t mean you are absorbing all of it. A high quality supplement can help you get the concentrated dose you need.