Turmeric: Uses and Benefits
Many authentic Middle Eastern and Indian dishes won’t be complete without turmeric. From curries to dals and soups, this spice is a staple in these regions of the world. Some people may not like its mildly-bitter and pungent flavor. Many adore the hints of ginger and orange that it imbibes in certain dishes. However, did you know that this spice also comes packed with nutrients that can give you amazing benefits?
Nutrition Profile of Turmeric
The people of the Indian subcontinent have been using turmeric in both their recipes and as a medicine. It is an integral component of ancient Ayurvedic practices because of turmeric’s many properties. These stem from the nutrients and other substances that it contains.
One of the most intriguing bits of information about turmeric is that it is a spice with a complete macronutrient profile. Many plant-based foods do not contain either fat or protein. In addition to carbohydrates, turmeric also contains these two important macronutrients. A teaspoon of this spice contains 0.2 grams of protein and 0.2 grams of fat. Its carbohydrate component accounts for two-thirds the weight of the spice.
Turmeric contains modest amounts of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and niacin. It also contains trace amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin E, choline, betaine, and folate. These vitamins play different roles in the human body. These vitamins are evident in a teaspoon of this spice. Increasing the amount of turmeric will also provide additional vitamins in trace amounts. These include riboflavin and Vitamin A.
When it comes to minerals, turmeric contains manganese and iron in modest amounts. Iron is beneficial in the improvement of red blood cell function. Manganese can help improve the digestion and utilization of amino acids and other protein derivatives. There are trace elements in turmeric, too. These include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, coppers, and selenium.
- Essential Fatty Acids
As unbelievable as it may seem, turmeric also features essential fatty acids. These healthy fatty acids can provide the body with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. They can also aid the body in other physiologic processes.
Turmeric contains 1 to 6 percent curcuminoids. The most important curcuminoid in turmeric is curcumin. This gives the spice its bright orange-yellow color. These phytosterols are also responsible for the many health benefits that people associate with turmeric. In addition to curcuminoids, turmeric also contains essential oils. These can also provide a number of benefits to the human body.
Benefits of Turmeric
Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine say that turmeric is a miracle spice. It is capable of curing a variety of human illnesses and health conditions. The scientific community does not always agree with something that does not have empirical evidences, however. Still one cannot deny the fact that turmeric can provide the following benefits.
- Enhances the Body’s Ability to Neutralize Free Radicals
The human body can produce its own antioxidants. However, this system can also get overwhelmed. Adding turmeric to your diet or consuming it as a supplement can help boost the body’s ability to fight free radicals. This can lead to a host of benefits including a slowing down of the aging process.
- Aids in the Reduction of Inflammatory Processes
This is due in part to the antioxidant property of turmeric. Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis are two age-related diseases that have inflammatory origins. The inflammation in the brain can lead to a reduction in cognitive processes. Inflammation of the joints can lead to an impairment in one’s mobility. Turmeric can address the inflammatory processes of these conditions to bring about much-needed relief.
- Boosts Cognitive Function
As mentioned above, turmeric can boost the cognitive function. It enhances the production of neurotropic factor, a hormone that can help improve brain function. This can lead to better memory, enhance focus, and better concentration. It can also help in the enhancement of learning, problem-solving, and other cognitive processes.
- Lowers Risk of Certain Diseases
Turmeric can also reduce the risk of certain health conditions. These can include brain diseases, heart diseases, and cancer. It can also aid in the management of depression in some individuals.
Uses of Turmeric
Turmeric has a number of uses. These can include as a culinary spice, dye, supplement, and therapeutic adjunct.
- As a Culinary Ingredient
Turmeric has an earthy aroma and a mustard-like flavor. It is slightly bitter and comes with a pungent scent. This is a spice that is perfect in savory dishes. However, there are some Indian cuisines that use turmeric in sweet dishes. It is a staple in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian cuisine. It is one of the key ingredients of curry powder.
- As a Natural Dye
Buddhist monks and Indian sari manufacturers use turmeric as a dye. They rely on the bright yellow color of curcumin and the bright orange color of a volatile oil. Some food manufacturers also use turmeric as an additive. This helps protect the processed food from the effects of UV radiation. When combined with annatto, turmeric can provide color to certain cheeses, margarine, and salad dressings.
- As a Supplement
Turmeric contains curcuminoids and essential oils that have antioxidant properties. It is for this reason that many practitioners of holistic and natural health use the spice as a supplement. It can help enhance the body’s ability to create antioxidants. It also serves as an effective antioxidant itself. It can help boost cognitive function, while limiting the effects of inflammatory diseases.
- As an Adjunct to Conventional Treatments
There is an interesting body of knowledge suggesting that turmeric can be a good adjunct to conventional therapies. One of them is in the management of certain cancers. There is reason to believe that turmeric can induce programmed death in cancer cells. It can also help slow down the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need. It can also be a good adjunct to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It can reduce inflammation, while also removing amyloid plaques in the brain. It can also be a good option for reducing the symptoms of arthritis.
Turmeric is not only a great spice to add to your favorite Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes. It can also serve as a great supplement for its many health benefits.
- 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin – Healthline
- Spices, Turmeric, Ground: Nutrition Facts & Calories – Nutrition Data