Ingredient Spotlight: Turmeric

Oct 10, 2016

Not only does turmeric lend it’s beautiful colour to our favourite dishes, it brings with it a powerhouse of nutritional benefits. Today, we’ll take you through its many benefits and give some tips on how to incorporate it more into your diet.

Fall is officially here and with the change in seasons from a very warm summer, comes a necessary change in our diet and lifestyle routines. Incorporating warming and nourishing foods such as roots and spices into our diets is one of many great ways to adjust with the changing of seasons.

From the long list of spices that exist, one that stands out the most due to its high nutritional value and variety of uses is turmeric.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. Its flavour is peppery, warm and bitter. It is similar in shape and scent to ginger just slightly smaller in size. It can often be found dried and ground and is used extensively in dishes throughout India, China and Indonesia.

Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial and it is what gives turmeric its golden yellow color. It is known to be one of the most widely studied plant-derived medicinal chemicals in modern science. It’s list of benefits and effects goes on and on with new findings emerging constantly.

Health Benefits

Not only does this spice add a ton of flavour, it is widely used primarily for its health benefits:

  1. Anti-inflammatory: Turmeric works as an anti-inflammatory in treating many conditions such as jaundice, menstrual difficulties, chest pain, allergies, arthritis and even swollen muscles or ligaments. Its anti-inflammatory capabilities have been shown to be just as good, if not better than those of potent prescription medications including hydro-cortisone and ibuprofen.
  1. Antioxidant: Turmeric is known to be a very powerful antioxidant protecting healthy cells from free radicals in the body that can damage the cellular DNA and lead to cancer. Some studies have also shown that it may be able to help in the prevention of heart disease, as well as degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis!

How do I Use it?

Incorporating turmeric into your everyday diet can be easy! Add it dried to soups to create a depth in flavour. Try it juiced, either at home or in our Be Radiant and Hydrate & Heal. If you’re feeling creative, try adding it to warmed milk with cinnamon, raw honey, black pepper, ginger and cayenne for a golden milk; a traditional tea in Indian culture. Taken before bed this milk can aid in relaxation and help boost the immune system.

To get the most benefit from this amazing spice, combining turmeric with other foods is essential. Turmeric is fat soluble, meaning without fat, the active component in turmeric, curcumin, has a difficult time being properly digested and absorbed. Use in golden milk tea, sprinkled on an avocado or even stirred in olive oil and then tossed onto a salad. Taking with black pepper and vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers or greens also enhance the bioavailability of curcumin.

Turmeric is very safe to use and tolerated well at higher doses, so get creative and try adding this hugely beneficial spice into your diet this fall and winter season!

 

By Chantal Papasodaro, B. Comm.

 Chantal is a co-op student at our 99 Roncesvalles location. She is currently completing her second and final year at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition to earn the degree of Certified Nutritional Practitioner. Her passion is in educating and encouraging others to implement simple, clean and whole foods into their diets in order to improve their quality of life. Connect with her on Instagram @nutrichon