Spotlight on Spices: Turmeric Health Benefits
Turmeric, with it’s key compound curcumin is the latest celebrity of the food world. Featuring in all of the trendiest recipes and foodie blogs, it’s idolised for its intense aroma and brilliant health benefits.
Of course, turmeric has long been used as a spice in India, gracing dishes with its warm, peppery flavour and beautiful golden colour.
Native to southeast India and deriving from the same family as ginger, turmeric comes from the curcuma longa plant, ending up on British supermarket shelves in its fresh or ground form. Here, we’ve listed our favourite things about turmeric.
Top 5 Turmeric health benefits
Turmeric has a number of well-publicised health benefits, which have raised it to superfood status including:
1. As an anti-inflammatory
Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric and it’s excellent for fighting inflammation of all kinds. This means you can use turmeric to reduce the pain caused by inflammatory diseases, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis.
2. Improved brain power
Cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s are linked to lower levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Curcumin is known to increase levels of BDNF, hence turmeric can lead to the delay or even the reversal of cognitive disorders.
3. Turmeric reduces the risk of cancer
Once again, curcumin is the hero compound in turmeric, as it’s known to target many types of cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma, breast, ovarian, and lung cancer.
4. Improves digestion
A little bit of turmeric a day can help with a variety of digestive problems, including digestive tract inflammation and the reduction of gas and bloating.
5. Turmeric increases heart health
And one last point-scorer for curcumin is that it can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), remove plaque build-up in the arteries, and prevent blood clotting, all of which can lead to heart attacks and strokes if unattended to.
Turmeric has a wonderfully exotic and earthy taste, and it’s a staple in many Indian curries, pickles and even drinks!
Ravinder Singh, Head Chef at Masti London, says turmeric is one of his favourite ingredients to cook with. “We use both fresh turmeric and ground turmeric in our kitchen,” he says. “For curries and stews, we’ll sautee vegetables with a teaspoon of ground turmeric to bring out that distinctively warm flavour, and we use fresh gratings from the turmeric root for our marinades.”
Signh says you don’t have to limit this brilliantly flexible ingredient to food either. “Put some fresh turmeric in your NutriBullet for an added boost to your morning smoothie or stir ½ a teaspoon of ground turmeric into your tea – some people even use turmeric to dye fabrics!”
TURMERIC FOR BEAUTY:
Turmeric is packed full of antiseptic and antibacterial properties too, which means it can do wonders for your skin.
Many beauticians use turmeric as an ingredient for organic, homemade facemasks to treat acne, oily skin, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing.
Turmeric is antiseptic and can also provide quick relief for burnt skin. Simply mix some turmeric with aloe vera to speed up the healing time.
This article is part of a blog series called ‘Spotlight on Spices’, wherein we uncover unique and interesting facts about your favourite spices. Is there a special spice that you’d like to see featured? Drop us a request over on our Facebook | Masti London page.