Turmeric

Turmeric is an herb and is grown mostly in India as well as in Central America. It can be safely stated that any Indian cuisine is incomplete without using this ingredient. You can easily find it in root, powder and supplement forms. The root appears quite similar to that of ginger. It is its bright yellow color that makes it unique and easily recognizable.

It also can be grounded to be used as a spice in different types of cuisines. Spice blend can be used to enhance the flavor of cuisines like curry powder. Ayurveda claims to use this ingredient for thousands of years due to its potent medicinal benefits. As medicines, it can help treat various types of health ailments including inflammation, fatigue and pain. For thousands of years, religious ceremonies conducted in SouthEast Asia use this ingredient to increase the auspiciousness of the occasion. It is also used in the form of culinary spice. Recently, experts have given it a ‘superfood’ status.

Turmeric vs. Curcumin: Know the difference

There are about 100 compounds in this ingredient. However, curcumin is the most sought-after compound in this spice. It is curcumin that offers health benefits and helps treat various types of health ailments. This compound is what offers a yellow bright hue to this spice. However, it is found to be just 5% in raw form. The benefits offered by turmeric are rather credited to this particular compound. However, the supplement form is said to offer more power as you get all the hundred plus compounds and hence, is in huge demand in the global market.

Nutritional facts to know

When nutrition is concerned, ground spice of 1 tsp has approximately 9 calories. It also offers some fiber of about 0.7 g and protein of 0.3 g. It also has iron of 1.65 mg and provides a daily value of around 9%. Hence, at one sitting, you are likely to consume fewer than 1 tsp. For example, most recipes demand adding just a tsp of ground spice.

Turmeric & its proposed benefits

This ingredient can be termed to be a flavorful, bright spice that is filled with myriads of health benefits. However, most of the benefits are credited to one particular compound that is present in a very low amount, namely, curcumin. It is considered to be the primary compound that offers the bold yellow colour to this spice. There are several ways by which it can benefit your health.

  • Diminishes depression symptoms: Lower levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) are what is said to cause depression in people of all ages. This protein is generally produced naturally in the brain as well as the spinal cord. Its function is to ensure smooth regulation between the different nerve cells present all over the human body. In an experiment, this compound was given to rats for about 10 days. Researches concluded that on the completion of 10 days, the rats showed increased BNDF levels. People suffering from major depressive disorder were given this compound of 1,000 mg a day for about six weeks. They were found to exhibit positive improvements similar to those who were given antidepressants or combining both treatments.
  • Helps ease arthritis pain: The compound is found to contain useful anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, it is termed to be an effective treatment to cure inflammatory conditions like arthritis. A study conducted showed patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis were given a curcumin supplement of 500mg for 8 weeks and twice a day. This group saw significant improvements in joint swelling and tenderness. This was when compared to the group who believed in prescription anti-inflammatory medication or the combination.
  • Weight loss: Whether turmeric will be useful to lose weight or not is still not established. However, preliminary researches conducted suggest that regular intake of this ingredient can help improve your weight-loss efforts. One study comprised 44 people. They were found to suffer from metabolic syndrome (characterized by high blood pressure, obesity, low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and high blood triglycerides). They were given the compound in supplement form in their daily diet of about 800mg. The studies reported that this group shed approximately 2% of body weight. In a month’s time, this group reported losing about 5% of body weight and fat by around 8%. Researches in this study had included an active compound present in black pepper, namely, piperine of 8 mg to the supplement. This way, the body can easily absorb more amount of curcumin with the addition of piperine.
  • Cures Diabetes: This spice is popular for its anti-inflammatory effects. It can treat inflammatory conditions along with diabetes. In a particular study, obese mice showing type 2 diabetes symptoms were given this supplement. After 16 weeks, they showed reduced blood insulin levels. Enhancing insulin resistance, the compound helps avoid type 2 diabetes. It also reduces high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
  • Supports skin health: This spice is rich in antioxidants, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it is considered to be a potentially effective medicine to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. However, more studies are desired in this regard. Its poor bioavailability is what makes it ineffective as a standalone treatment to cure skin disorders. However, it can complement existing treatments.
  • Complements cancer treatment: Whether turmeric is good enough to prevent the development of cancer cells is still unclear as stated by the American Cancer Society. However, this spice does have the potentiality to provide a cure to cancer occurring in different parts of the body. This is due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties present in it in reasonable amounts. This spice along with its major compound can help prevent the development of cancerous tumor cells in the body. However, more research is desired in treating humans.

Turmeric Interactions

On interacting, the spice is likely to improve blood thinner effects, thereby enhancing bleeding risks. Hence, if you are presently on medication like Jantoven (warfarin) or Coumadin, then you should consult your doctor. It is essential to know whether you can take this ingredient in spice or supplement form to avoid its negative effects. Past researches found that the compound comes with its own anticoagulant properties. Therefore, this effect is only likely to be further compounded by combining the two.

It could be that you are recommended to take daily diabetes medication to reduce blood sugar levels in your body. If so, then taking this spice in whatever form will only magnify such effects. You are likely to increase your risk of having low blood sugar. Hence, before adding this compound or the spice or supplement to your daily regimen to treat diabetes, do consult your doctor.

Some experts are of the opinion that the spice and the compound together might interact with different types of medications. It also includes antibiotics, antidepressants, chemotherapy treatments, cardiac medications and antihistamines. If you are presently taking such medications, then do remember to discuss with your doctor whether to take the supplement or not.

Breastfeeding or pregnant women might consume foods having this ingredient without any worry or fear. However, they are recommended to avoid the supplement form as it can be harmful to both the mother and the child.

Dosage

Spices like ginger and cinnamon along with turmeric are considered safe food elements by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) authorities. Hence, you will not experience any negative effects on including this yellow, bright spice in your daily diet. Moreover, even children and adults are recommended to have this spice in food to derive its health benefits. But the same is not recommended for them in supplement form. The reason is that the supplements are found to have curcumin along with other curcuminoids in higher concentrations. Hence, ground turmeric is quite safer to be consumed by all ages and is also recommended by health experts across the globe.

Taking about 0.5 grams of the supplement in extract form offers curcuminoids of about 400 mg. On the other hand, ground turmeric comprises curcuminoids of just 15 mg. This result is confirmed by a 3rd party, authorized supplement testing agency.

A review revealed that the dosage ranged between 100 and 2,000 mg (approximately 0.1-2 g) a day. At any given time, the typical dosage taken was around 0.5 g (500 mg). Also is taken into consideration the fact that the compound or the spice can interact with the above-mentioned medications.

Black Pepper & Turmeric

The human body is unfortunately not designed to absorb this spice in sufficient amounts in raw form to derive positive effects. However, it can be combined with black pepper, the scientific name being Piper nigrum to improve its strength. Hence, when combined with black pepper, it becomes easier to ingest the spice mixture easily and effortlessly, in reasonable amounts.

Studies conducted in the past showed that piperine (black pepper’s main ingredient) of 2 mg were mixed with curcumin of 2 g. This helps enhance the bioavailability or perhaps the compound amount to be absorbed by the human body by approximately 2,000%. Another study conducted showed that piperine helps enhance the bioavailability of various other nutrients. It does not allow the enzymes to break down further foods including other substances.

It could be that you desire to use this compound or the spice to derive health benefits. If so, then make sure that the supplement chosen for the purpose contains piperine in it. This will ensure that you are able to take the supplement regularly and it is absorbed well by your body.

How to choose the best quality Turmeric and store it safely for future use?

There are present several ways following which you can choose the best quality spice to make it part of your regular diet. The top-quality spice will ensure that you derive its magical health benefits.

  • Tea: It is popularly referred to as ‘Golden Milk’. Originally, its consumption was limited to some Asian countries mainly India. However, its benefits have compelled even western countries to adopt it in their daily diet regimen. It is easy to prepare this recipe. You just need to whisk together turmeric of 1 tsp with other commonly available spices like black pepper and cinnamon in warm milk. You can also include a sweetener of choice if you prefer to. You can also come across turmeric tea bags that can easily help prepare a beverage filled with potential benefits.
  • Root: Several specialty and grocery stores offer this product in their refrigerated section. You can also order them from the reputed online stores as they are easily available. It appears like that of a squiggly root, quite similar to that of ginger. Before using, just scrape off its peel taking the help of a spoon. It is important to store fresh turmeric within an airtight container and refrigerate it. This way, you can use it fresh for about a week.
  • Supplements: You can find supplements offered by different brands in the market. Taking such supplements regularly or as advised will enable deriving more potency. They are available at the local grocery stores and health food stores. But buying online will allow you to enjoy getting fresh, good-quality branded supplements at discounted rates. They are also available in various formulations like capsules and soft gels. Hence, you can choose something that fits your preferences, moods and budgets.
  • Spice: This ingredient is popularly used as a ground spice in different types of foods especially in Asian countries like India. You can find them in power or grounded form at any local grocery store and are quite affordable. This spice is also considered to be the main component for a variety of curry powders. Spice jars should be kept in a dark, cool place to avoid spoilage. Some brands mention ‘best by’ dates in their labels allowing consumers to know by when it should be exhausted. It could be that you prefer to use this ingredient in your food preparation on a daily basis. But this does not mean you should buy it in bulk quantities. It is always best consumed fresh and hence, buy small quantities whenever the present stock is exhausted.

Ways to use this spice to cook different types of delicious recipes

Turmeric can be used as an ingredient in a wide range of recipes like:

  • Frittatas
  • Rice dishes such as paella
  • Smoothie
  • Added with poaching water for cooking egg
  • Turmeric latte or golden milk
  • Indian curries
  • As spice rub for poultry or fish
  • Included in soups
  • To zest salad dressing
  • Prepare curry chicken salad
  • Before roasting, dust it on vegetables
  • With coffee or tea