Turmeric (a.k.a. Curcuma longa) is a plant collected yearly for its rhizomes that is reproduced into turmeric powder. Turmeric is dark-orange or yellowish very similar to the appearance of ginger root. Turmeric is dried and ground into powder that is used as a spice in Indian cuisine and curries. The active ingredient is curcumin; it has an earthy and slightly bitter flavor with a mustard smell.
It contains calcium, copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc. Turmeric is also rich in vitamin C, D, K, and several B-vitamins.
Turmeric has small amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Anti-cancer: The high content of antioxidants helps protect the colon cells from free radicals that can cause damage to cellular DNA, which is a major benefit in the colon where cells turnover occur about every three days. Curcumin can assist the body with destroying mutated cancer cells, so that they cannot spread and cause more damage. It also helps to slow down tumor formation and prevents blood supply to cancer cells to stunt their growth.
Anti-inflammatory: The volatile oil part of turmeric has major anti-inflammatory properties. The more potent property of turmeric is the yellow or orange color, which is called curcumin. Unlike drugs/medications, curcumin has no toxic side effects such as ulcers, decreased white blood cell count or intestinal bleeding.
Cardiovascular health: The curcumin ingredient in turmeric can prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body; the oxidized cholesterol causes damage to blood vessels and builds up plaque that can cause heart attack or stroke. Preventing oxidation of cholesterol helps reduce the development of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Turmeric is an excellent source of vitamin B6, which can keep homocysteine levels from increasing and directly damaging the blood vessel walls. High intake of vitamin B6 can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Immune system: Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties are useful for strengthening the immune system and is the first line of defence in the digestive system, to prevent bacterial or viral infections.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Curcumin can be an inexpensive and a successful treatment for inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Researchers believe that curcumin helps these diseases with the antioxidant activities it provides as well as the reservation of a major cellular inflammatory agent that reduces inflammation.
Liver function: Turmeric has the ability to improve the detoxification system by inducing the development of primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes.
Rheumatoid arthritis: The curcumin in turmeric has powerful antioxidant effects that can neutralize free radicals, which move through the body and can cause damage to healthy cells. Free radicals are responsible for causing painful joint inflammation and can cause damage to the joints. Curcumin has been shown to be beneficial for improvements like shortened amount of morning stiffness, longer walking capability, and reduced joint swelling.
For therapeutic use, choose organic for its purity and increased efficacy. Turmeric is usually used in its dried, powdered form but it can also be used fresh, like ginger.
When handling turmeric, beware that it can deeply stain your cutting board or anything that it comes in contact with, including your juicer.
How to make ginger-turmeric tea.
Do not eat turmeric, if you are on any of these medications.