You may have heard of turmeric – it’s a bright yellow spice commonly found in Asian food (it gives curry it’s colour!). You may have also heard it being touted as the new ‘miracle’ spice – but is it really all it’s made out to be? Let’s find out.
What is it?
As I mentioned above, it’s a spice that’s found mainly in Asian foods. But that’s not all it is! It’s been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years – and we’re only just catching on to its benefits. It’s loaded with all that good stuff like protein, niacin (good for your heart!), minerals and Vitamins C, E and K. But the real powerhouse behind turmeric is a powerful antioxidant called Curcumin. We already know that antioxidants are basically superheroes for your body, but Curcumin has the added benefit of being a powerful anti-inflammatory.
You can just add turmeric to your diet, but if you really want to ramp up the benefits you should try and find an extract of turmeric that contains high levels of Curcumin – you can even buy it in oil form! Another tip is to try and include black pepper when you use turmeric in your cooking, as it’s been shown to increase the absorption of Curcumin (and that’s the stuff you want!).
Now onto what it can do:
Keeps your heart healthy
- Curcumin has been shown to lower the risk of blood clots, with less severe side effects than it’s medicinal counterparts.
- It’s also been shown to reduce the stress on blood vessels, which can then lead to a lessening of bad cholesterol levels.
Superpower against inflammation
- Curcumin is an inflammation miracle worker – it’s shown to perform better than even ibuprofen and aspirin!
- You’re able to use it for lots of things, as many diseases are underpinned by inflammation in some way or another.
- It can be very effective for arthritis, as arthritis is an inflammation of the joints.
- It can be used as a painkiller (in a similar way to ibuprofen) and can even help with heartburn!
Helps slow ageing in both mind and body
- A lot of the unwanted side effects of aging come from ‘free radicals’ – chemicals that cause damage to healthy cells, and something you definitely want to avoid. As a powerful antioxidant, Curcumin not only eliminates these free radicals, but also boosts your body’s own antioxidants – how’s that for teamwork?
Supports your brain
- Turmeric can be effective in slowing (or even reversing!) brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or depression.
- Linked with this, it can also protect against age-related slowing of brain function.
- Here’s where Curcumin’s powerful ant-inflammatory properties come in again (is there anything they can’t do?). Turmeric can reduce brain inflammation and plaque build-up in the brain – things you definitely don’t want!
- Some people with inflammatory bowel diseases like IBS or Crohn’s disease have to take corticosteroids to calm their symptoms – turmeric has show to be of benefit to those with IBDs, without the side effects of corticosteroids.
- Turmeric allows good flora to flourish in your gut.
- It also increases production of bile – which may sound gross, but it is good for you! Bile improves digestion and can relieve gas and bloating.
With a host of uses from heart to brain health, turmeric could be a great addition to your diet. It’s easy enough to throw into your cooking, but if you need some inspiration you can look here. Bring on the curries! (Homemade, not take-away!)