Turmeric seems to be popping up all over the place lately. From golden milk lattes to soups and curries, turmeric has become a popular ingredient over the past couple of years because of it’s touted health benefits. While many foods that seem to become popular overnight are mostly marketing gimmicks, turmeric has deep-rooted health benefits that date back thousands of years. Here’s everything you need to know about turmeric and why it needs a place in your spice rack.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is an herbal root, similar to ginger. It can be used fresh or dried and ground. With its bold golden hue and warm, slightly bitter flavor, the “golden spice,” as it has been appropriately named, has been in use for thousands of years in Asia as a natural dye, cooking spice, and in traditional medicine. Ayurvedic practices tout turmeric as an aid for digestion, inflammation, liver function and cancer. It is the main ingredient in curries and other Indian dishes, and is used for coloring some cheeses and mustards.
What are the health benefits of turmeric?
Despite the usual disagreement between Western medicine and ancient traditional medicine practices, they are in agreement when it comes to turmeric. There are some scientifically proven benefits of consuming turmeric, most of which are derived from curcumin, the polyphenolic compound that gives turmeric is golden color. Curcumin has antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, that have been shown to be effective at fighting inflammation in osteoarthritis and other inflammatory diseases, heartburn and other GI issues, and diabetic retinopathy. While it is too soon to be certain, other studies suggest that turmeric could be beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and Chron’s disease. Consuming turmeric has been shown to boost the immune system and ease upset stomach.
How do I use turmeric?
Use turmeric like you would other spices. It’s warm, peppery, slightly bitter flavor lends itself well to sautéed vegetables, beans and lentils, meat, or fish. Grate the fresh root or use the powder in curries, soups or smoothies. Another popular use is ‘golden milk’ or turmeric tea, where turmeric, ginger, and other spices are heated with coconut milk (or another milk) for a warm, soothing beverage.
While turmeric may not be a cure-all, its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties have been proven. Turmeric makes a great addition to your spice rack to help you explore new flavors and brighten up your food. Stop by your local grocery store or health food market to pick some up today!
Kaleigh McMordie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Master of Nutrition based in Lubbock, Texas. She is passionate about nutrition and healthy living, so much so that she loves to create delicious, nourishing recipes for people trying to live a healthy, vibrant life. Kaliegh’s mission is to help people achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle filled with joy and memories without sacrificing all that is good in life. Follow her on Instagram: @livelytable