What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant native to South Asia, from which the golden spice is derived from its underground stem. Providing a warm, earthy, and slightly bitter taste, it has a treasured role as a culinary staple in South Asian cuisine. The active compound within turmeric is curcumin - a potentially powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent - and the key to turmeric's health benefits.
(Note - don’t confuse turmeric with Javanese turmeric root or tree turmeric. Zedoary or goldenseal are also unrelated plants that are sometimes referred to under the name turmeric).
Purported Health Benefits of Turmeric
Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects have been extensively indicated to relieve chronic inflammation, which could be at the root of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and various neurodegenerative conditions .
Antioxidant Benefits: Turmeric is a rich source of antioxidants, which help combat free radicals in the body. Reducing free radicals can reduce the risk of oxidative stress-related diseases and ageing .
Joint Health and Pain Relief: Some studies suggest that curcumin supplements may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint pain and stiffness .
Digestive Health: Turmeric has a history of use in traditional medicine to aid digestion. It is thought to help stimulate bile production and reduce symptoms of indigestion .
Brain Health: Some research indicates that curcumin may have a protective role in brain health, potentially reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's . There are, however, other studies which contradict this .
Heart Health: Turmeric may have positive impacts on heart health by enhancing endothelial function (the lining of blood vessels), reducing blood pressure, and lowering the risk of heart disease .
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
There is a wealth of information around turmeric and much is being discovered about this spice and the active element curcumin. However, care needs to be taken as to what has been substantiated. It is also important to ensure consumption in moderation to safely harness turmeric’s potential.
Incorporate Turmeric into Cooking: The safest and most enjoyable way to consume turmeric is by incorporating it into your daily cooking. Enhance your dishes by sprinkling it into soups, stir-fries, or in curries.
Turmeric Supplements: If you're considering these, consult with a healthcare professional. They can help recommend the right dosage and ensure it doesn't interact with any other medications you may be taking.
Turmeric Tea: Turmeric tea or golden milk is a popular way to consume turmeric. It's a soothing beverage that combines turmeric with other spices like black pepper (which enhances curcumin absorption) and milk .
Be Mindful of Allergies: Some people may be allergic to turmeric. If you experience any adverse reactions like skin rashes or digestive issues, discontinue use and seek medical advice .
Pregnancy and Medical Conditions: Pregnant or breastfeeding women and individuals with certain medical conditions (such as gallbladder issues or bleeding disorders) should consult their healthcare provider before adding turmeric to their diet .
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We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.