The latest science confirms the amazing healing properties of this yellow spice that’s consumed daily in Indian kitchens.
Multiple studies with turmeric (and its key active ingredient, curcumin) have shown that it provides strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antidiabetic effects and even enhances the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory medications. It does so by targeting multiple processes in your body that are involved with disease onset, progression, and complications.
While still more research is required, the data so far looks promising: turmeric or curcumin may help with diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, various cancers, and possibly also liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, psoriasis, burn pain, and wounds.
How much to have
Extensive clinical trials have confirmed that turmeric is safe for culinary and medicinal use. In India, the average dietary intake is a little over 3 grams per day. Based on a review in the United States, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that 1–3 grams of dried, powdered turmeric root per day is needed to produce a health benefit. There is no clear recommendation for curcumin dosage, which is sold as a dietary supplement.
Because different components show different biological activities with varied efficacy and potency, some research suggests that mixtures of the various curcumins present in turmeric may offer better therapeutic potential.
I recommend using both fresh turmeric and dried turmeric powder in everyday cooking. If you want a higher level of curcumin, use alleppey turmeric (darker yellow) because it has 3.5–4 percent curcumin compared to the more common bright-yellow Madras kind that contains 1.5–1.8 percent.
How to use it in cooking
Turmeric is mainly used for its brightyellow color, although it also contributes to flavor at higher doses. Use ground turmeric to make yellowcolored pastes and dressings when cooking rice and vegetables, dals (an Indian food), stews, and legume soups. Add a pinch to your tea or dissolve it in hot milk with a sweetener to make traditional “golden milk.” Fresh turmeric is also perfect when added to juices and smoothies for an extra kick.
Nutritionist Sue Radd is the award-winning author of The Breakfast Book and coauthor of Eat to Live, internationally acclaimed for showing how savvy eating can combat cancer and heart disease and improve wellbeing. See www.sueradd.com for more nutrition information.