Turmeric is a spice commonly used in cooking, especially in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is a yellow orange coloured powder that is derived from the root of the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), which is native to Southeast Asia. Turmeric has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer effects. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is responsible for its bright yellow colour and many of its health benefits. Turmeric is often used in conjunction with other spices, such as black pepper, to enhance its absorption and potency.
Turmeric Nutrition Facts
Turmeric is a spice that is rich in several essential nutrients, including:
- Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.
- Fibre: Turmeric is a good source of fibre, which is important for digestive health and preventing constipation.
- Iron: Turmeric is a good source of iron, which is important for the production of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.
- Vitamin B6: Turmeric is also a good source of vitamin B6, which is important for the metabolism of amino acids and the production of neurotransmitters.
- Manganese: Turmeric is a good source of manganese, which is important for bone health and the metabolism of carbohydrates and cholesterol.
- Potassium: Turmeric is also a good source of potassium, which is important for heart health, muscle function, and fluid balance.
While turmeric is considered safe for most people, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using it as a dietary supplement, especially if you are taking any medications. Some medications may interact with turmeric, so it is important to talk to your doctor to determine if it is safe for you to consume.
6 Science-based Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Some of the most notable health benefits of turmeric include:
- Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help to reduce pain and swelling in conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Antioxidant: Turmeric is a potent antioxidant, which can help to protect against oxidative stress and damage to cells, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anti-Cancer: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to have anti-cancer properties and may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as prostate, breast, and colon cancer.
- Brain Health: Turmeric has been shown to have neuroprotective effects and may help to improve brain function, reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Heart Health: Turmeric has been shown to have a positive effect on heart health by reducing cholesterol levels, improving blood flow, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Digestive Health: Turmeric may help to improve digestive health by reducing inflammation in the gut, increasing bile flow, and helping to prevent digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
It is important to note that while turmeric is considered safe for most people, some individuals may experience side effects, such as upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhoea. It is also important to consult with a healthcare provider before using turmeric as a dietary supplement, especially if you are taking any medications, as some medications may interact with turmeric.
How to use turmeric
Turmeric can be used in various ways to add flavour and health benefits to your diet. Some of the most common ways to use turmeric include:
- Cooking: Turmeric is a popular spice used in cooking, especially in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisine. It can be used in a variety of dishes, such as curries, rice, soups, and stews, to add a warm, earthy flavour and a vibrant yellow colour.
- Tea: Turmeric can be added to boiling water to make a warm and flavourful tea. Simply add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for a few minutes before adding honey or lemon to taste.
- Supplements: Turmeric can also be taken as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules, tablets, or liquid extracts. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements, especially if you are taking any medications, as some medications may interact with turmeric.
- Topically: Turmeric can also be applied topically to the skin in the form of a paste. Mix turmeric powder with water or oil to form a paste, then apply it to the skin and let it sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing off.
When using turmeric, it is important to note that its active ingredient, curcumin, is not very well absorbed by the body on its own. To enhance its absorption, it is recommended to use turmeric with black pepper, as the black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which has been shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin.
Side Effects of Turmeric
Turmeric is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts as a spice in food or as a supplement in recommended doses. However, some individuals may experience side effects, such as:
- Stomach upset: Turmeric may cause mild stomach discomfort, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhoea, especially in large doses.
- Skin irritation: When applied topically to the skin, turmeric may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals.
- Interactions with medications: Some medications may interact with turmeric, including blood-thinning medications, blood sugar-lowering medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: The safety of turmeric during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not well understood, and it is recommended to avoid large amounts of turmeric or to consult with a healthcare provider before taking it.
- Gallbladder problems: Turmeric may worsen symptoms of gallbladder problems, and individuals with gallbladder disease should consult with their healthcare provider before using turmeric.
It is important to talk to your doctor before taking turmeric supplements, especially if you are taking any medications, as some medications may interact with turmeric.
It is also recommended to follow the recommended dose on the supplement label and not to exceed the maximum recommended dose.