Traditionally called Indian saffron for its vibrant yellow hue, turmeric has long been used as a staple anti- inflammatory in Chinese and Indian medicinal systems. It comes from the root of Crucuma longa ad has been used historically to treat a diverse group of ailments and complaints, for health and beauty treatments to include:
- Chest pain
- Menstrual difficulties
Not all of these claims have been verified by the current academic community, but it’s no news by now that turmeric has its health benefits. Curcumin is turmeric’s primary pharmacological agent as well as the source of its trademark yellow-orange hue. Its anti-inflammatory abilities have been compared to drugs like hydrocortisone, phenylbutazone, and Motrin, but lacks the harmful side-effects (which include ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, and intestinal bleeding). In fact, the scientific community can’t seem to stop singing praises for turmeric.
Research at Kansas State University found that turmeric and other spices can reduce levels of the carcinogenic compounds formed when meats are barbecued, boiled, or fried (heterocyclic amines) by 40 percent. According to Andrew Weil of the Huffington Post, many epidemiologists believe that turmeric is one of the reasons people in India have a lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease (less than one-quarter of cases in the United States). Turmeric is a key ingredient in various curries, a daily fare in India. Pretreatment with curcumin makes cancer cells more susceptible to chemo- and radiotherapy, according to research from the University of South Dakota. Preliminary research at the Medical University Graz in Austria hint that curcumin may delay liver damage (which can lead to cirrhosis).
Research at the University of Texas indicates that curcumin inhibits the growth of skin cancer and melanoma. It also shows promise in preventing the spread of breast cancer to the lungs.
So, how to snag all these health benefits? Turmeric is a staple in most curries, and despite its distinct taste, it’s a very versatile spice.
- Add a pinch of turmeric to egg salad or deviled eggs to give the yolks a bolder yellow and give the dish a kick of spice.
- Mix it in with cumin and coriander in a bowl of brown rice, raisins, and cashews.
- Sauté cauliflower florets with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a hefty spoonful of turmeric for about five minutes. You can do the same with green beans and onions.
Try adding it to almost any recipe calling for lentils.
- Saute apples with turmeric in butter. (Apples also taste great in curries.)
- To make a tasty and relatively healthy dip, mix turmeric, dried onion, salt, and pepper with some omega-3-rich mayonnaise. Serve with raw cauliflower, celery, carrots, sweet pepper, and broccoli.
Submitted by guest Blogger Bridget Sanderford Bio: Aside from school and working part-time as an Assistant Chef, Bridget Sandorford is the resident Culinary Schools blogger where recently she’s been researching New York City culinary training as well as culinary colleges in southern California. Her passion for food has followed her research into many different areas, such as nutrition, fitness, organic foods, gardening, and cooking on a budget. She lives outside of Charleston, South Carolina.