Up until recently I hardly ever paid attention to turmeric and even if I am an accomplished cook and I knew of the existence of this spice, it was never really something I would keep in my pantry. To me turmeric belonged to Indian cuisine and I never really needed it to prepare my “western” dishes.
However, after stumbling across a few articles on turmeric, I became very interested in its properties and being a firm believer in the healing and health powers of proper nutrition, I followed up with extensive research which made me realize I was missing out ignoring the fantastic properties of this tasty and colorful spice.
Turmeric may be one of the most powerful natural supplements available, as proven by numerous scientific research-based studies. It belongs to the same group of plants as ginger, its fresh roots look very much like ginger except for the internal colour which is bright orange. It is normally sold in ground form and it is what gives the characteristic yellowish tint to curries.
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The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, part of a group of protein compounds called curcuminoids which have very strong anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
As an anti-oxidant, turmeric helps block the proliferation of free-radicals but also stimulates the body to activate its own antoxidant mechanisms. Free radicals cause the degeneration of DNA at cellular level and promote ageing and the subsequent development of deseases.
As an anti-inflammatory, turmeric acts at molecular level and it is so powerful to rival some anti-inflamatory drugs without the side effects.
These properties have been thoroughly and scientifically researched and turmeric is proven to fight against heart disease (by regulating blood pressure and preventing blood clotting), cancer, especially in terms of preventing it by blocking cells proliferation, and possibly even help with Alzheimer disease. Many patients suffering from arthritis seem to respond well to curcumin supplementation. Health benefits of turmeric include treatment of ulcers and osteoarthritis.
All this to tell you that turmeric is an all-round amazing spice that can help your health by preventing many health problems and that it is worth including it in your diet.
If you’re not willing to take curcumin supplements in form of tablets, there are a few tricks to optimize turmeric absorption and ease it into your diet routine.
Curcuminoids constitutes about 1 to 6% of turmeric and they are fat-soluble molecules, therefore is is best to consume them with fats. Furthermore they are not easily absorbed into the bloodstream but this can be overcomed by assuming them with a pinch of peppercorns which contain piperine, a natural substance that enhances absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Curcumic is also heat sensitive so it is best added to dishes at the end of the cooking process.
A few ideas to incorporate turmeric in your diet could include adding half a teaspoon of turmeric to your salad seasoning, or marinating your barbecue meat in a sauce with soya sauce and a teaspoon of turmeric (this helps minimizing the cancerogenic effects of grilling), or adding it to your favourite pilau rice recipe or pasta sauce and, naturally, in any marvellous indian dish.
A very soothing, healthy and quick way of taking turmeric is drinking it! Recipes to follow:
- 2 cups of coconut milk (or any milk you prefer, almond, oat etc.)
- ½ teaspoon (or to your liking) of local honey
- ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
- small pinch of black pepper
- Optional: 1inch of cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 2 cardamom pods
Heat the almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir for a couple of minutes until hot. Strain the spices and pour the turmeric milk into drinking cups.
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- 80ml local honey
- 2 ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- pinch of black pepper
Mix honey and turmeric to form a paste (any left over can be kept in a jar).
Dissolve a heaping teaspoon of turmeric paste at the bottom of a cup with hot but not boiling water, add a big squeeze of lemon and a pinch of pepper, stir and enjoy.
I hope you will consider including turmeric among your staples: I certainly do!