By now, I’m guessing you’ve heard or seen the turmeric trend that’s been circling the Internet. You may have seen recipes floating around for drinks like “Golden Milk”. “Turmeric Lattes” are even popping up on cafe menus, while turmeric capsules gain popularity as a supplement. Except, there’s nothing really new about turmeric. Turmeric
has been used by traditional cultures for millennia. The only “new” thing about turmeric is the medical research that’s accumulated in recent years. This research is helping to form an even stronger body of evidence that proves this amazing plant is worthy of all the accolades it’s receiving.
So, What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a tropical plant (Curcuma longa
) that grows to about 3 feet tall with large green leaves. A collection of rhizomes clumped together underground form the edible part of the plant. The flesh of turmeric is a deep orange/yellow color while the skin is similar in appearance to ginger root. These roots, or rhizomes, almost resemble fingers on a hand when dug from the ground. If you’ve ever chopped up fresh turmeric, you probably know about its amazing ability to stain your
fingers. In traditional Indian and Nepalese cultures, turmeric is still used as a natural clothing dye. To this day, it’s used as a natural food coloring. You may consider it poor man’s saffron,
as it adds vibrant color in recipes calling for expensive saffron. Turmeric root has a peppery, warm, and bitter taste. Its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related. It also has a bit of a mustard-like smell. Turmeric is native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It is used extensively in South Asian cuisine and is the spice that gives curry its bright orange-yellow color. For thousands of years, turmeric has been used in traditional Asian cuisines and as a therapeutic spice in Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurveda, turmeric is utilized in some very creative ways — to make juice, boiled tea, fresh curry paste, or transformed into dried powder. Turmeric is also used topically, as an ingredient in tinctures, ointments, or body lotion. In these traditional cultures, turmeric is applied to reduce pain, swelling, rashes, and skin blemishes. It is even used as a topical paste to speed up the healing of wounds!
What Makes Turmeric So Special?
Not only does it add gorgeous, rich color to your cooking, but it’s also full of flavor and is responsible for some incredible and notable medicinal qualities because of… Curcumin —
the component of particular interest in turmeric. One of the most widely studied compounds, curcumin has widely recognized health benefits. Thousands of peer-reviewed studies exist attesting to its medicinal applications and anti-inflammatory abilities. Reducing inflammation in the body can bring relief to arthritis pain and muscle soreness, as well as reduce the signs of aging. A recent study
suggests turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and may even reduce the affects of mercury exposure. Various studies
have also help to highlight how turmeric may play an important role in reducing the risks of heart disease. By reducing inflammation and oxidation in the body, turmeric can improve the many factors which contribute to cardiovascular health risks. One example
is turmeric’s potential ability to decrease serum cholesterol levels since high levels of serum cholesterol have been closely linked to heart disease. Furthermore, researchers have found
that turmeric may be an effective treatment in fighting depression and boosting brain function. It can help subdue the impacts of stress on the brain and, consequently, the body. While curcumin can be bought as a standalone supplement, it’s far more economical to use turmeric as a regular ingredient in your kitchen. By consuming turmeric as a whole food, you are consuming all of the compounds found in turmeric which work together in synergy as nature intended.
How To Eat Turmeric To Boost The Benefits
Want to know a trick to get the most out of your turmeric? Use black pepper
and fat. Piperine
, a compound in black pepper, boosts the body’s uptake of curcumin. Even just a pinch of black pepper can boost the body’s absorption of curcumin by up to 2000%! (source
). Turmeric’s vitamins are fat-soluble. Therefore, consuming turmeric with some fat, like coconut oil
, encourages the body to absorb curcumin directly into the bloodstream rather than being processed through the liver. This speeds up the body’s ability to metabolize the curcumin compound. So drink that Golden Milk. Order the Turmeric Latte! Or, you may prefer to simply eat a coconut curry that contains turmeric, black pepper, and coconut milk
. I love to also make a milk kefir smoothie each morning using Wildly Organic’s certified organic ground turmeric
, a pinch of black pepper
, fresh ginger, cinnamon, and honey for sweetness. It may sound strange to add pepper to a smoothie but you honestly can’t even taste it with the other amazing ingredients.
Now do you understand why the turmeric trend is taking off? What’s your favorite way to consume or use turmeric?