Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that’s been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. This root, which is a cousin to ginger, is native to Southeast Asia and sometimes called “Indian Saffron” because of its beautiful golden color. Turmeric’s active compound, curcumin, has been extensively studied for its disease-fighting potential and preventive health benefits.
While many studies focus on very concentrated preparations of curcumin in powder, tablet, or extract form intended for therapeutic dosing, eating turmeric as part of your day-to-day diet can be the best way to reap the healthy benefits. Read on to learn more about turmeric’s health benefits and how to use it to boost your health and wellness.
1. Powerful anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is a root cause of many health conditions like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and even cancer. Inflammation has also been shown to play a role in cognitive decline. Turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties offer a protective benefit. Use turmeric in a go-to salad dressing. Whisk together white miso paste, tahini, apple cider vinegar, and turmeric—simply delicious and powerful.
2. Kicks free-radical butt.
Turmeric has been shown to increase antioxidant capacity and help fight free-radical damage. This is especially good for the immune system, brain function, and what’s behind those anti-cancer claims. It’s also been shown to amp up the body’s natural antioxidant capacity, boosting your defense system. Turmeric’s antioxidant properties also benefit our appearance too by protecting the skin from free-radical damage like environmental pollutants. Add a teaspoon to your favorite green juice or smoothie for an antioxidant boost.
3. Helps boost your immune system.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties make it a health-promoting powerhouse. While curcumin is not absorbed that well into the bloodstream, consuming it with black pepper enhances absorption, thanks to a substance in the pepper called piperine. A favorite cold-fighting tea remedy is turmeric, ginger and black pepper. Add one teaspoon of turmeric to 12 ounces of water and bring to a boil. Take the water off the heat and add one-quarter teaspoon each of ground ginger and black pepper. You could also make this into golden milk by using coconut milk instead of water. Since curcumin is fat-soluble, consuming it with a fat-containing food or beverage helps you absorb it more effectively.
4. May ease joint pain.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin may help ease joint pain. Studies have actually shown promising results in the ability of turmeric and curcumin to manage pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. It may also be helpful for athletes looking to soothe soreness.
5. Can help treat and prevent cancer.
Turmeric and curcumin have been studied extensively for their role in the treatment and prevention of various types of cancer, with many promising findings in animal and human studies. Turmeric is a natural pairing for a cancer-fighting plant-based dish. Mix turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and black pepper with olive oil and toss with chickpeas. Roast at 350°F until crispy (about 20 minutes) and enjoy over a salad or veggie-rich soup.
6. Protects your heart.
Curcumin and turmeric have been shown to protect your heart in numerous ways like improving endothelial function and reducing inflammation and free-radical damage. Reap the benefits in a delicious way by cooking turmeric into a fiber-rich whole-grain dish like brown rice, quinoa, or barley.
7. Helps heal your gut.
Though we often associate turmeric with spicy foods, it has actually been used to treat inflammatory bowel conditions like colitis. Try it in a gut-soothing soup using organic chicken bone broth as the base.
8. Boosts your mood.
Curcumin has also been shown to have a potential use in depression treatment by reversing detrimental brain changes that occur in depression. It’s also been studied for its potential to boost levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Because tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, getting enough of this amino acid can also help support a stable mood. While it’s mostly found in animal protein, oats are a great plant-based source.
9. Might stave off neurodegenerative diseases.
Because curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier, research has suggested the brain can also benefit from its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant benefits and stave off conditions like Alzheimer’s. Use turmeric in an all-purpose spice blend for fish or to toss with olive oil and toast up with walnuts, another food shown to protect brain function as we age.
10. Improves long-term cognitive function.
Curcumin has been studied for its potential to boost brain health by increasing and supporting healthy levels of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays a key role in long-term cognitive function. Turmeric goes great with eggs, another brain food. Shake some into a veggie omelet or scrambled eggs.
With so many ways to use turmeric in cooking, it makes sense to add this amazingly healthy spice into various recipes. Give it a try today to make a difference in your overall health.