Turmeric – The Healing Spice
I’ve always been interested in foods that heal, and my blog would not be complete without mentioning the nutritional superstar, turmeric. I don’t think people use enough turmeric in their cooking, probably because it’s not a popular flavor in American food recipes.
What is Turmeric?
A bright yellow spice, turmeric tastes like a peppery mixture of ginger and musky orange. You’ve probably tried it in egg salad and Indian curries, but it might surprise you to learn it’s also an ingredient in ballpark mustard. It also lends itself well to pickles, relish, chutneys, rice dishes, butter and cheese. Exotic and fragrant, turmeric is actually the powdered rhizome (root) of the plant Curcuma longa, a cousin of the ginger plant, and has been used in India for over 2500 years. The yellow coloring substance present in turmeric, called curcumin, appears to be the major active component.
15 Reasons to Love Turmeric
There’s an incredible amount of literature on why you should eat turmeric, but let me condense it into a short list for you.
- Is a natural antiseptic/disinfectant. (Johnson & Johnson actually make band-aids with turmeric on them for the Indian market.)
- Has potent antioxidant properties
- Inhibits skin cancer (melanoma), breast cancer and pancreatic cancer
- Shuts down a protein that produces an abnormal inflammatory response in the body
- Is the best blocker of TNF (tumor necrosis factor), a contributor to cancer and arthritis
- Breaks the blood-brain barrier by slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice (human clinical trials are still in process), and definitely protects human brains from free radical injury
- Has helped treat acne, psoriasis and Rosacea
- Reduces bad cholesterol while also preventing its oxidization
- Improves the liver’s ability to detoxify
- Reduces incidents of childhood leukemia by inhibiting radiation-induced chromosome damage
- Is recommended as therapy to halt the growth of prostate cancer cells (best taken along with cauliflower)
- Is also used in conjunction with onions to reduce the spread of colon cancer cells
- Can correct a common expression of a genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis
- Is prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine for stomach and blood circulation problems.
- Can be dissolved in milk to curb illnesses like cough and fever.
Even More Turmeric Uses
Turmeric can also be used for the relief of flatulence, liver problems, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, traumatic injuries, bruises and sores, chest pain, rib pain, colic, swelling and abdominal mass.
During the past few decades, laboratory studies have shown turmeric to promote bile secretion, increase appetite, lower blood pressure, alleviate pain, stimulate the uterus, reduce inflammation and edema, and to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibiotic, insecticidal, antispasmodic, hypocholesterolemic, antimutagenic and anti-tumor properties. Wow!
Externally, turmeric can be used for pain and itching caused by sores by making a paste out of it and spreading it on the affected area.
Due to its medicinal properties, turmeric is now sold in capsule, tablet and powder form for easy consumption.
How To Eat Turmeric
You can add turmeric to your cooking by using it in:
- Egg salads, giving them that characteristic yellow color
- Beef, chicken, and lamb curries from Thailand, India and Bangladesh, and Marrakesh vegetable curries
- Whole grain brown rice, along with saffron, pineapple, pepper and raisins
- Sautéed chicken, along with ginger, garlic and cinnamon
- Lamb or Chicken Tagine, best with prunes
- Any dish with lentils (lentils pasta, lentil soup)
The Spice of Life
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My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.