Turmeric Spice - The Super Seasoning
Turmeric is that bright yellow spice that gives mustard its distinctive yellow color and is used in Indian curries. It comes from the root of the Curcuma Longa plant and is sometimes called “Indian Saffron.” It is native to India and Southeast Asia, although its warm, peppery flavor is popular around the world.
Although turmeric has been used for thousands of years, recently it has been added to the list of “super” foods for a variety of reasons.
Inflammation is your body’s response to cellular injury that, if prolonged, can lead to disease. The pigment in turmeric, which is called “curcumin,” has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory—and without the side effects of many drugs that are sold for this purpose.
According to a study done at the University of Michigan, curcumin gets into the cells and makes them more orderly, allowing the cell membranes to have better control over substances that flow in and out of the cell and thus providing a protective effect against malignancy and infection. This has implications in the prevention of cancer, arthritis and other diseases.
The curcumin in turmeric spice has anti-oxidant capabilities, which helps protect your body against the cell damage caused by free radicals. The bright yellow color of turmeric is a clue to its anti-oxidant properties, since the bright pigments in foods seem to have this protective power.
Aids liver in detoxification
Your liver works hard 24/7 to rid your body of all of the toxic substances that you inhale, ingest and produce as your body functions. There is good evidence that the curcumin found in turmeric may help the liver to detoxify certain toxic chemicals. This is significant, especially as our air, water and food become more toxic.
Due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and detoxing properties, the curcumin found in turmeric spice may help protect you against cancer. There is also evidence that curcumin helps the body to destroy cancer cells and thus may inhibit the growth of tumors. Studies have been done that demonstrate that those who consume turmeric regularly have a lower incidence of breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer.
Aid in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
As our population ages, there is increasing concern about the prevalence of mental disease such as Alzheimer’s. A number of studies have been done which show that several active ingredients in turmeric may affect your body’s ability to ward off Alzheimer’s disease, including boosting your immune system, affecting gene coding and improving brain chemistry.
Helps your heart
The curcumin found in turmeric spice has been shown to help your body to eliminate bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as helping to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. This protects your blood vessels from damage and helps to prevent the build up of plaque in your arteries. This is significant in reducing your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders.
Even weight control!
A recent study suggested that turmeric may even have a role to play in weight control! Apparently, the curcumin found in turmeric helps to slow the formation of body fat, even when a significant amount of fat is consumed in the diet. Although, I am not recommending a new “Turmeric Weight Loss Plan,” including turmeric in your diet may help, especially when you consider all of its other benefits.
What about vitamins and minerals?
Like many spices and herbs, turmeric is a good source of the mineral, manganese. It also has significant amounts of Iron, Potassium and Vitamin B6.
How do I get turmeric into my diet?
Although enjoying some nice Indian curry may be one way to get some turmeric into your diet, it is certainly not the only way. In fact, curry powders often have less turmeric in them, than you might imagine.
Here are some ideas for incorporating turmeric into your diet:
-You can make tea from turmeric by simmering a teaspoon of the powder in about four cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Strain the tea and sweeten if desired. (There are also commercial turmeric teas available, if you prefer.) Some ginger root may be added for additional benefits.
-Add turmeric to egg salad, deviled eggs and macaroni salads.
-Add turmeric to soups and chili. It is especially good in tomato soup or tomato-based soups. Add a little fresh black pepper since the phytonutrients in black pepper complement the curcumin in the turmeric.
-Turmeric spice is a good seasoning for steamed cauliflower with a bit of oil and salt.
-Look for some Indonesian and Indian brown rice dishes that include turmeric spice or curry powder. (If they call for curry powder, you can add some extra turmeric.)
-Add turmeric spice to your meatloaf or Sloppy Joes.
These are just a few ideas, but feel free to experiment on your own. You can only benefit from including this warm, fragrant yellow spice in your personal cuisine!