Turmeric has been used in tons of health foods as of late. While traditionally used in curries, stews, and several marinades, an increasing usage of turmeric has been seen in teas, juices, and other health foods. This is because turmeric is known to have numerous amounts of health benefits and has been used as medicine for thousands of years. Here’s a compilation of some of the greatest health benefits that turmeric is known to provide, and how to use it in food to boost your health:
Curcumin is Responsible For Turmeric’s Key Health Benefits
Photo: New Jersey Health Federation
While most news about the health benefits of turmeric talk about the root itself, the key compound inside of turmeric that provides most of the health benefits is curcumin. Curcumin belong in the polyphenol category of compounds. Many polyphenols have been linked to health benefits (like those in Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Curcumin is no exception, and is where the majority of research focused on turmeric’s health benefits and antioxidant properties is focused on.
Turmeric Keeps Carcinogens From Producing When You Cook Meat
Photo: Tiger Lim
A recent study applied turmeric as a marinade to beef satay to see if it would reduce cancer-causing compounds – carcinogens – from producing when it was grilled. Grilling foods produces carcinogens known as heterocyclic amines, and this study found that turmeric reduced the production of those compounds by the grilled meat. Make sure to rub some on your meat next time you grill!
Turmeric Helps You Retain Other Antioxidants Better
Photo: Siska DM
Several other vegetables are great sources of antioxidants, such as pumpkins and carrots, which both contain high amounts of beta-carotene. This antioxidant has numerous health benefits and is responsible for the orange color seen in both vegetables. A study showed that turmeric actually helps make this beta-carotene more available, meaning that mixing it with these common fall vegetables gives you increased health benefits.
It’s a Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Photo: The World’s Healthiest Foods
Apart from curcumin, turmeric is packed with a ton of other health-providing compounds. Two teaspoons of turmeric alone provides 17% of the manganese and 10% of the iron you need daily – enough to get an “excellent” source rating from the World’s Healthiest Foods. That’s without including all of the other micronutrients turmeric is a good source of, as seen in the chart above.
Turmeric is Best Known For It’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Photo: Manuela Schmidt
Traditional Chinese medicine (along with several other cultures) has been using turmeric for generations as a way to treat several anti-inflammatory conditions. While these typically have been arthritis, colitis, and hepatitis (liver inflammation), turmeric also has the potential to treat many other anti-inflammatory conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and many more!
It Can Also Treat Skin Disease Very Well
Photo: Sush Singh
Several early studies have looked at the effects of turmeric as a topical skin treatment. They have linked it to helping cure acne, alopecia (an autoimmune disease leading to hair loss), skin aging, and several other skin conditions. There’s still plenty of room for research in this field, but the early signs are promising.
Turmeric Fights Multiple Types of Cancer
Photo: Garden to Cup
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties also help out in treating cancer. It’s been researched and found to not only help destroy cancerous cells, but also inhibit the growth of already present tumors. This is extremely promising for turmeric to be a great supplement or natural medicine to help fight cancer.
It’s Effective in Treating Alcohol Poisoning
Photo: Daishi Naruse
Who would’ve thought? Turmeric has been used to help combat alcohol intoxication before. While it doesn’t keep you from being drunk, it has been linked to preventing any liver or brain damage that alcohol poisoning could potentially cause. Having some turmeric tea or turmeric-marinated foods on-hand during a long night out may be helpful.
Pepper Boosts Turmeric’s Health Benefits
While turmeric and the curcumin inside of it have enormous health potential, we don’t absorb them into our blood stream very well. As a fat-soluble compound, using oils in turmeric marinades can help with this absorption. There may be another answer to this in the form of pepper. Black pepper contains a compound inside of it called piperine – something we normally associate with the flavor of pepper. However, it’s also been shown to boost the absorption of turmeric into our bloodstream by a whopping 2000 percent! That would definitely help boost the health benefits we gain from turmeric.
Turmeric is a great health-promoting food and should be an essential in your spice cabinet as well as your health food pantry. While it’s not approved by the FDA yet for use in medicine, there’s no denying how powerful this root is in providing great health benefits. From pepper-infused curries to turmeric-spiced pumpkins, make sure to incorporate some into your meals!