All About Turmeric
Turmeric is a golden colored spice essential for Indian curry or yellow mustard. Not only does it lend its color and flavor to foods, but it has many purported health benefits too. Turmeric has been thought to be effective for everything from improved brain function, to cancer prevention; from combating depression and heart disease to preventing Alzheimer’s, arthritis and relieving inflammation. Others have suggested links to a possible cure for high cholesterol as well as for eczema and psoriasis. But is it really the cure-all everyone’s claiming it to be?
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
This nubby root with skin similar to ginger root or tamarind has been used in cooking and medicine for thousands of years. If you break it open, you will see the telltale signature color of turmeric. Warning – the dyeing properties are great for coloring eggs, but it can also stain clothing, counters, hands and cutting boards. Turmeric is commonly found in your spice aisle boiled, dried and ground into a powder, but you can also find it fresh at health food stores or organic markets.
WHAT IT’S USED IN
Turmeric is often stirred into pale foods such as eggs, rice or cauliflower to add a little color to the plate. Turmeric is also commonly paired with ginger. Have you tried a Fire Shot or our Baked Tandoori Chicken?
Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound, but curcumin is only about 3% of turmeric’s weight. Although curcumin extracts have shown some promise in scientific studies for a number of ailments, the amount of curcumin in a food dose of turmeric is not significant enough to evoke any real change. Some curcumin advocates suggest consuming with black pepper because a component of pepper called piperine can boost curcumin absorption.
If it’s delicious cuisine you are after, start with the turmeric recipes above or add a sprinkle to your favorite culinary creation. But if it’s health benefits you seek, you may consider a more concentrated dietary supplement or extract by discussing with your physician.