Monday, June 25, 2012

Spice Up Your Life with Turmeric

For a while now I have been fascinated by the medicinal value spices have played throughout history.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about nutmeg.
When I came across an article on curcumin and its anti-inflammatory properties I perked up and started some research on it.  Curcumin is derived from the rhizome of the herb Curcuma longa.  The plant grows similar to ginger and contains a chemical compound called polyphenol.  The powder of the root is from a common spice known in the west as turmeric, in Hindi as haldi and in Japanese as ukon.  It is mainly used as an aromatic and to color foods like yellow mustard or added to spice mixtures such as curry and/or garam masala.
Turmeric is known for its yellow-orange color and pungent flavor.  Besides its valuable contribution to our taste buds, it has been used as a natural remedy in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for 1000s of years.  Curcumin has been known to combat all kinds of human diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and atherosclerosis.  It can be especially useful in the application against joint pain and stiffness.  That certainly drew my attention.

Nutritional Profile of Turmeric
1 TBSP.         (1.9 gms)
Calcium           4.00 mg
Iron                  0.91 mg
Magnesium     4.00 mg
Phosphorus     6.00 mg
Potassium     56.00 mg
Sodium            0.001mg      
Zinc                 0.10 mg
Thiamine         0.003 mg
Riboflavin        0.005 mg
Niacin              0.113 mg

A more complete nutritional profile is available on the Whole Foods Website:


Health Benefits of Tumeric:
·         Improved digestion
·         Stronger liver
·         Cleaner blood
·         Helps control inflammation
·         Arthritis
·         Cataracts
·         Type 2 Diabetes
·         Gallstones
·         Cystic fibrosis
·         Psoriasis
·         Joint Stiffness
·         Irritable Bowel Syndrome
·         Alzheimer Disease

For a more complete healing profile listing, please visit:
Besides using turmeric in cooking to spice up your food, you can also make a delicious drink, called “Golden Milk.”
You can watch this video:
or just make it by warming 1 cup of milk, adding 1 tsp. of turmeric paste (the video also explains how to make the paste by cooking ¼ cup turmeric for 7 min. in ½ cup of water; then store in a glass jar in the fridge) and sweeten the milk with some honey or maple syrup.  Add 1 tsp. of coconut oil or sesame oil (turmeric absorbs better when it is in contact with fats).  This drink is very calming and over a period of time, you experience the benefits of more flexibility in the joints.
One thing to watch when using turmeric is that it can stain anything it comes in contact with.
There is a reason why India has less health challenges than we have in the Western world.  The use of health enhancing spices is part of their way of life.
Here are a few more delicious ways to add turmeric to foods:
  • Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color.
  • Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews and season with turmeric, cumin and coriander.
  • Although turmeric is generally a staple ingredient in curry powder, some people like to add a little extra of this spice when preparing curries. And turmeric doesn't have to only be used in curries. This spice is delicious on healthy sautéed apples, and healthy steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions. Or, for a creamy, flavor-rich, low-calorie dip, try mixing some turmeric and dried onion with a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Serve with raw cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets.
  • Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature lentils.
  • Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them.
  • For an especially delicious way to add more turmeric to your healthy way of eating, cut cauliflower florets in half and healthy sauté with a generous spoonful of turmeric for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Healthy eating!


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