Showing posts with label turmeric health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label turmeric health. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Turmeric: Spice Up Your Health!

Turmeric. Many people are familiar with this spicy little plant native to parts of Africa, South India and Indonesia, but few are aware that it could have health benefits as well. Turmeric spice has been used in mustard, curry dishes and even clothing dye. But did you know that it's also used as a treatment for common indigestion and an antioxidant by many who practice alternative medicine?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports basic information about turmeric health benefits. However, while animal testing confirms some turmeric benefits, they caution that findings have not been confirmed in people.

Benefits of Turmeric
turmeric recipes
There may be health benefits of turmeric.
  • Anti-inflammatory - Turmeric has been used in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some report that it may help with the pain experienced with these conditions, as well as the loss of movement.
  • Heart and Stroke - Possible benefits are lowering key risk factors such as buildup of arterial plaque, lowering of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • Cancer - Antioxidant properties found in turmeric may help treat different forms of cancer.
How Stuff Works explains that the active ingredient, curcumin, in turmeric may reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the main cause of pain and immobility in arthritis and has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and certain cancers.

 Turmeric and Alzheimer's Prevention
Studies in animals have shown that Curcumin can reduce the amount of a protein plaque called amyloid that is linked to Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin Research Products states that the occurrence of Alzheimer's in India is much lower than it is in the United States. Turmeric is a common spice in many Indian dishes.

The findings that Turmeric can reduce plaque associated with Alzheimer's are preliminary. Two issues currently being studied are what dosage of Turmeric is needed to prevent Alzheimer's and how do we help our bodies absorb the right amount of Turmeric? Nutrition Wonderland talks further about the need for more research about Turmeric benefits.

Turmeric supplements can be found in many stores and can be taken in pill form by themselves, or with food. You can also add fresh turmeric to your food or use bottled spices. Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D., noted author and herbal product formulator, finds that curcumin, the turmeric root extract, can be beneficial in killing cancer cells connected to prostate and other cancers.
Turmeric is considered safe for most adults, but people with gallbladder disease should avoid using it because it can make the condition worse. Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric can also raise the risk of bleeding in people who take prescribed blood thinners, aspirin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen or who eat foods that thin the blood. Before deciding to use any complimentary or alternative treatment for health issues, always check with your doctor.  The Time to Talk campaign through NIH gives tips about what questions to ask and how to approach the subject.  For a full list of possible benefits, safety concerns or turmeric side effects, visit this link to MedicinePlus.

Many spices are reported to have health benefits in addition to spicing up the foods we eat. While there is not much scientific evidence to reveal the benefits in humans, we do know that adding different spices can be a great substitute for things like salt and sugar, both of which are proven to raise health risks.

turmeric health
Add turmeric to potato salad for color and taste.
My mom and I are trying to cut down on salt. We stopped using it while cooking and do not use it at the table. But, we do miss the taste and sometimes find that food tastes bland. We don't use specific recipes for turmeric, but we add it to many dishes and in place of other things like table salt. I've found that adding turmeric to things like grilled chicken or fish, potato salad and eggs gives a nice flavor and even color to our meals. That can also be important because as we age, our sense of smell and taste can diminish. When food no longer attracts our sense of smell or taste, we sometimes lose interest in eating. Adding colorful spices to food that pack a little zing or even sweetness has helped my mom maintain her appetite. I know that she is still interested in fueling herself with great food, well I think it's great but I'm the chef so I'm partial! But I also have the comfort of knowing that I'm not increasing the salt in her food and she's not eating high sodium, high calorie sauces or flavor substitutes that are bad for her health. Improved taste and reduced sodium are two proven benefits turmeric has to offer.

While trying to spice up the taste of our meals, I found a great website where I can type in the name of a spice and find recipes that include it. has turmeric recipes and many others that may add spice to your diet and your health.

How do you spice up your meals? Have you tried turmeric? Please share you own turmeric recipe with us!

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer