If you’ve eaten curries, then you’re most likely aware of the spice turmeric. It’s a fragrant and bright yellow spice that has a warm, peppery taste. Turmeric is a popular spice in India, Jamaica, Thailand, Japan, and South Africa. It can be used to add a flavorful boost to many of your favorite dishes, but did you know it’s also healthy for you?
The Golden Spice of Life
Turmeric transcends cultures around the globe. Native to southern Asia and parts of the Pacific Islands, this spice plays a vital role in many cultures. Outside of its popularity in the kitchen today, turmeric has history in medicine and playing ceremonial roles.
For Hindu culture Turmeric is much more than a spice to cook with. The Hindu faith views turmeric as sacred and uses the spice in holy ceremonies, wedding traditions, and childbirth.
The use and importance of turmeric in the Caribbean date back to the late 1800s, when indentured slaves from India were brought to the Caribbean for labor. When people from India immigrated to Jamaica they brought Turmeric with them-sharing its ceremonial and medicinal properties with the community.
But…What is Turmeric?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), is a rhizome, meaning that plants’ fruiting body is at the root, just like ginger. The active property in turmeric is called curcumin. This gives it its bright yellow/orange pigment, and great flavor.
Curcumin is also where a majority of turmeric’s’ potential health benefits are at. Turmeric is also known for having antioxidants and helps with inflammation.
Studies have shown that if you add black pepper to turmeric, it’ll help your body absorb more of its nutrients.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is healthy for long term use and can help with a variety of health conditions. Taking large amounts of turmeric is not recommended, as it can increase levels of oxalate. This may increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
In moderation, turmeric has several benefits:
- Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric’s active property, curcumin is said to be more effective at treating chronic inflammation than aspirin or ibuprofen–at the right dosage, says this past study. Seeing how inflammation is a side effect of many chronic illnesses, curcumin can help treat illnesses like IBS and arthritis. Of course, talk to your doctor for additional information about adding turmeric supplements to a daily diet.
- Heart Health: Studies suggest that the effects of turmeric play a role in treating heart-related issues like heart disease. Turmeric can also help regulate blood pressure. Curcumin can help improve and protect your hearts’ endothelial function. The endothelial is a thin membrane that covers the inside of the heart, this membrane helps to regulate your blood pressure. When your heart endothelial is functioning at a low level there’s an increased chance for heart disease and an increase in aging.
- May Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes: Because of curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, it’s a great choice for people with diabetes. Curcumin has been seen to help improve insulin resistance and high blood sugar in rats. There’s a lot of testing and research being conducted to study the effects of curcumin. Seek medical advice from a doctor to see if curcumin is right for you.
- Increase Antioxidant Capacity: curcumin is potent as an antioxidant. It can reduce free radicals in the bloodstream and may also stimulate other antioxidants in the body.
Ways to incorporate Turmeric into your diet
Turmeric is increasing in popularity because of its medicinal benefits and flavor. it’s a great spice to add to a variety of dishes. The flavor is warm and peppery but not overpowering or spicy.
- Add a few dashes of turmeric into the pot when making rice. It gives the rice a bright yellow look and compliments just about anything on the plate. You can easily add it to roasted vegetables, scrambled eggs, teas, and more to create a healthy, delicious dish.
- Turmeric is also found in curry powder. Curry powders are made with a variety of bright yellow spices including, turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili pepper, and curry leaves.
- If adding spice to food isn’t for you, you can find turmeric and curcumin supplements. With turmeric increasing in popularity, you can find it in supplement form at your local grocer, pharmacy, or a natural foods store.
At 3Natives we have energizing turmeric shots. Our shots are a great way to give yourself an extra boost when you’re feeling low. We offer a variety of juices and smoothies and a shot of turmeric is a great addition. Stop into your local Florida café today to try one!