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You won’t believe all the surprising benefits of turmeric

I remember when my parents first introduced me to Indian food, I must have been six or seven years old. I loved how colorful and fragrant the food was, the beautiful dishes it was served in and the explosion of taste in my mouth. I became so obsessed with Indian food and culture, that I begged my mom to buy me a sari and every Sunday I would watch a bunch of Bollywood movies and dance in our family room. Until today, I still have a great love for Indian food and culture. My husband and I can’t go more than two to three weeks without going out for Indian food or ordering it in. But it was only a few years ago when we started cooking Indian food at home that I became aware of all the amazing spices they use. One in particular being turmeric.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric, pronounced “tumerik”, comes from the root of the Curcuma Longa plant and is a culinary spice used primarily to make Indian curries, but is also a key ingredient in American yellow mustard. It’s part of the ginger family and has a bright orange color, with a warm, peppery, bitter flavor.

Health Benefits

For the past nine years, struggling to get pregnant and learning I had endometriosis, I have been on a quest to understand the link between food and fertility, as well as how to control my endometriosis. Over the years I have tried everything, eating only fish, becoming vegetarian, trying a vegan diet, and while I am still trying to get pregnant, I have been able to control my endometriosis.

One of the main things associated with endometriosis is inflammation. The foods that are suggested you stay away from when you have endometriosis are the following: refined sugars and carbohydrates, red meat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, saturated fats, soy products, tinned foods, convenience foods, wheat and chocolate, (source: Endo-resolved.com). I know you’re asking yourself, “Then what do you eat?” I focus on eating fruit, vegetables, grains (mostly rice), nuts, and very sparingly wild fish and seafood, hormone/antibiotic-free poultry and grass-fed meat and dairy. It seems very limiting, I know, but it’s the difference between feeling amazing, pain-free and having a lot of energy, or feeling miserable, bloated and in pain all the time.

As I have continued my quest to understand the link between inflammation and health in general, that’s when I became more and more aware of the benefits of turmeric. Here are some of the truly surprising health benefits of turmeric:

  • It contains a wide range of antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • It has several important nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, niacin, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc.

  • It has medicinal properties, which can be attributed to its main active ingredient curcumin. This makes it a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals naturally.

  • It boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which can help fight degenerative processes in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s.

  • It can help lower the risk of heart disease by improving the function of the endothelial, which helps regulate blood pressure and blood clotting.

  • This may seem far-fetched, but it can possibly help prevent cancer. In some studies, curcumin has been shown to reduce metastasis (the spread of cancer), angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels in tumors), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells.

  • It can help treat the symptoms of arthritis, because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

  • It’s an effective antidepressant, again because of the ability to boost BDNF.

Cooking with Turmeric

Not only do we cook Indian food quite often and use turmeric consistently, but I’ve also found other ways to use it while cooking, such as:

  • Sprinkling it on roasted vegetables

  • Using it when I sauté greens like spinach and kale

  • Add a pinch of it to scrambled eggs or omeletes

  • Add it to your tea by simmering it with almond milk and honey

  • Sprinkle it in a smoothie

  • Use it when making soups

  • Add a pinch of it to my coffee (what I like to call my spicy Bulletproof coffee)

What’s important to note is, the best way to get the most health benefits from turmeric is by pairing it with black pepper. Black pepper really helps to boost the benefits of curcumin, by improving the bioavailability of turmeric. The most efficient way to do this is by mixing black pepper with turmeric in a small spice jar so it’s ready to use.

Spicy Bulletproof recipe

Brew one cup of organic coffee (my favorite is Doma’s The Chronic Super Dank coffee)

1 small teaspoon of organic, unrefined coconut oil (Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil)

1 small teaspoon of grass-fed butter (Vital Farms Pasture Raised, Grass-Fed Butter)

1 small teaspoon of organic honey (Madhava’s Organic Very Raw Unfiltered Honey)

A pinch of organic cayenne, cinnamon & turmeric (all from the Simply Organic brand of spices)

Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy!

Sources:

Authority Nutrition – 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

Mother Nature Network – The amazing health benefits of turmeric

Global Healing Center – 8 Impressive Health Benefits of Turmeric

Other links:

Great recipes using turmeric from The Kitchn – 19 Delicious Turmeric Recipes to Spice Up Your Life

Great post on the digestion aid and cancer fighting power of ginger tumeric tea on Health Ambition – The Health Benefits of Ginger Tumeric Tea

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