What Is Turmeric Good For?
November 14, 2016
There’s no doubt that turmeric is one of the most highly prized spices in the world. Belonging to the ginger family, it has been used for thousands of years in East India and the Middle East. It's actually unclear whether it was first used for its peppery flavor and the unique kick it lends to foods. While it’s been part of the Western diet since the 13th century, its popularity has been increasing only recently.1
Ancient medicinal uses for turmeric began when it was noted as an anti-inflammatory agent, as well as helping ease a wide variety of conditions, such as jaundice, menstrual problems, blood in the urine, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, flatulence and colic.2
The name “turmeric” is derived from the Persian word for "saffron," the neon yellow-orange hue used to make curry and yellow mustard. A domesticated plant rather than wild, India remains one of the most prominent producers of turmeric, along with Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Jamaica and Haiti.3
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is loaded with essential minerals, including magnesium, potassium and calcium. It's also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6 and zinc, and contains healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium.4
While it's improbable that someone would ingest an entire ounce of turmeric in one sitting (although it would be completely safe), the nutritional aspects listed above can be easily obtained in this amount than in a teaspoon, which accounts for almost nothing. A more reasonable serving is about 1 tablespoon, which communicates excellent phytonutrients.
Research has shown that turmeric may help reduce gas and bloating, decrease congestion and improve skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.5,6
Turmeric has been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in Chinese and Indian medicine for millennia.7 Curcumin, the primary pharmacological agent in this spice, contains proven effects in this area that are comparable to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents as well as some prescription medications.8 But curcumin doesn't produce the toxic effect that synthetic drugs sometimes do, such as ulcer formation, increased bleeding and possible allergic reactions.9
More reported health benefits of turmeric include relief from joint pain, which results in reduced joint swelling and greater range of motion.10
Research also suggests that turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, lowering cholesterol levels, supporting cardiovascular health, relieving indigestion, improving liver function and even reducing your risk of Alzheimer's disease.11,12,13,14 Lowered risk of cancer and inhibited cancer cell growth – specifically cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, lung and childhood leukemia – are also on the list of possible benefits.15,16
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs
|Total Fat||0.31 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.173 g|
|Trans Fat||0.005 g|
|Total Carbohydrates||6.31 g|
|Dietary Fiber||2.1 g|
|Vitamin A 0 IU||Vitamin C||0.1 mg|
|Calcium 16 mg||Iron||.5.17 mg|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Studies Done on Turmeric
One study noted that curcumin has several therapeutic effects, one being the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation. Curcumin was studied against triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which scientists noted has a poor prognosis, after which researchers concluded that curcumin may be able to inhibit the proliferation of TNBC cells, possibly due to a change in the signaling pathway of the cancer's underlying molecular mechanism.17
Turmeric extracts were also tested and found to have skin-improving properties. In one study, extracts were used on ultraviolet radiation-damaged skin for six weeks. Scientists reported improvements in skin hydration and sebum content, along with possibilities that similar creams could be used in future photoprotective formulations.18
In another study, an ethanol extract of turmeric and curcumin ointment were found to produce significant pain relief in patients with external cancerous lesions.19
Turmeric Healthy Recipes:
Turmeric Healthy Recipes: Turmeric Cauliflower
✓ 1 head of organic cauliflower
✓ 1 tablespoon coconut oil
✓ 1 tablespoon turmeric
✓ Pinch of cumin
✓ Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Mediterranean Dressing:
✓ 3 tablespoons coconut oil
✓ 2 tablespoons lemon juice
✓ 2 medium garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
✓ Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cut cauliflower florets into quarters. Let the florets sit for about five minutes to bring out the health benefits.
- Press or chop the garlic. Let sit for five minutes.
- Heat 5 tablespoons of broth in a stainless steel skillet on medium heat.
- When the broth starts to steam, add the cauliflower and turmeric. Cover. For al dente cauliflower, cook for no more than five minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl. For more flavor, toss the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients while hot.
Turmeric Fun Facts
Traditionally called "Indian saffron" because of its deep yellow color, turmeric has been used throughout history as a condiment, textile dye and health remedy with a revered place in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, a comprehensive holistic health care list that dates back to 500 B.C.20
You can obtain the benefits of turmeric by thinking of your food as a medicine, which was the advice of Hippocrates in the fourth century B.C. This bright yellow spice, traditionally used as food and medicine, contains potent antioxidants and benefits that studies have shown can help fight diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
To get the most of what turmeric has to offer, use it to enhance many of the current ho-hum dishes on your table, such as fish (or any meat for that matter). Turmeric can also add delicious complexity to mashed dishes like potatoes or cauliflower, sautés with onions, broccoli, carrots or bell peppers, and can be used as a base for creamy vegetable dips, sauces and egg salad.
Be sure to choose full, organic turmeric rather than a curry blend, which has a negligible amount of anything healthy.
Tags: Herbs and Spices
- 1 The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2010
- 2 Moksha, “Turmeric: The Healthy Golden Spice of India”
- 3 The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2010
- 4 United States Department of Agriculture, Spices, turmeric, ground
- 5 Phytotherapy Research, 01.08.2016, p. 1243-1264
- 6 WebMD, Turmeric
- 7 Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2011
- 8 Surg Neurol Int. 2010; 1: 80
- 9 WebMD, NSAIDs for Arthritis
- 10 Arthritis Foundation, Turmeric
- 11 Altern Med Rev. 2011 Jun;16(2):152-6
- 12 Acta Med Indones. 2008 Oct;40(4):201-10
- 13 Int J Cardiol. 2009 Apr 3;133(2):145-51
- 14 Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2011
- 15 Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 2017, 7(3), 339-246
- 16 United States Department of Agriculture, Spices, Turmeric, Ground
- 17 Mol Med Rep. 2012 Dec;6(6):1267-70. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2012
- 18 J Cosmet Dermatol. 2011 Dec;10(4):260-5
- 19 Tumori. 1987 Feb 28;73(1):29-31
- 20 The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2017