A web search for turmeric brings up a multitide of sites, all with a similar headline: Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric. One site even boasted: 500 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb.
We’ve been hearing about turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties for years so let’s look closer at this ancient herb. Is turmeric really as great as so many say it is?
Turmeric is a spice in the ginger family, native to India and Southeast Asia, where it has been popular in cuisines for several thousand years. It’s an excellent source of both iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, copper and potassium. The major phytonutrient in turmeric is curcumin.
According to World’s Healthiest Foods: Despite its use in cooking for several thousand years, turmeric continues to surprise researchers in terms of its wide-ranging health benefits. While once focused on anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk, and support of detoxification, studies on turmeric intake now include its potential for improving cognitive function, blood sugar balance and kidney function, as well as lessening the degree of severity associated with certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.
One author claims that few modern-day pharmaceuticals come even remotely close to turmeric’s track record of safe use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Many studies suggest equal healing benefits when turmeric is compared to conventional pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicines. If you are currently taking any medications it’s important to check with your doctor before using supplements.
The University of Maryland Medical Center studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems. Their research suggests that turmeric may be helpful for indigestion, cancer (although it’s important to note they believe cancer should be treated with conventional medications; more research is needed), neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimers, Parkinsons and multiple sclerosis, and joint pain
Michael Greger, M.D., author of How Not To Die, is convinced we should all be finding ways to include turmeric in our diets. Based on it’s anti-inflammatory properties his recommended daily dose is 1/4 teaspoon daily.
Turmeric root has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm, and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. An easy way to consume the herb is to simply add 1/4 teaspoon to your green smoothie. I love it on oven baked sweet potatoes combined with cumin, cinnamon and a little salt. It’s also delicious with skillet-cooked garbanzo beans! Note that turmeric’s deep color can easily stain so be careful to wipe up any spills immediately.
Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability.
Here’s one recipe I enjoy often. This recipe for Turmeric Chicken is also delicious, but be careful to go a little lighter on the salt.
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
Combine oil and spices in a small bowl and mix well.
Place beans in a medium skillet and turn heat to medium high. Pour the spice mixture over the beans and cook, stirring often, until beans are heated through. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in airtight container for a few days.
Combine your favorite salad ingredients with the turmeric beans for a tasty lunch. I used arugula, fresh figs, cherry tomatoes, red grapes, thinly sliced red onion and avocado. Top with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper for a sweet and spicy salad. Enjoy!
This is a TWC-approved recipe!