What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a rhizomatous perennial spice from the ginger family. Its binomial name is Curcuma longa. It’s native to Southern Asia. For turmeric to thrive, it requires considerable amount of rainfall and temperatures between 20 and 30 degree Celsius. The powdered spice turmeric is made by first harvesting the rhizomes, boiling and drying them, then they are grounded to make the deep orange yellow powder. The powder is used as colouring in the Indian cuisine, Iran cuisine, Bangladeshi cuisine, Pakistani cuisine, curries and for dyeing purposes. On its growth, it reaches up to 1 meter tall and it has many branches with yellow, cylindrical, and aromatic rhizomes.
Turmeric is of great importance to health because it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune boosting properties. It is also of great importance to the traditional herbal medicine like Ayurveda. Turmeric compounds helps in preventing and treating diseases such as depression, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and heart diseases. For the herbal medicines, leaves and green turmeric rhizomes are used. Research has proven that turmeric can be used as natural pesticides, potent insect repellant and fungicides. In a study that was carried out, showed that turmeric oils and extracts can offer protection (100%) against black fly bites and mosquito for 9 hours.
The most common spice of turmeric is Curcuma longa and Curcuma domestica .C longa contains two main varieties which are Madras and Alleppey. In the United States, most people prefer Alleppey to Madras. This is because it has got higher bioactive compound called curcumin. It is the best preferred variety in Great Britain and Middle East.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC
- TURMERIC HAS BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS WITH POWERFUL MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
The yellow colour of the curry comes from turmeric. It has been used as a spice and medicinal herb in India for many years. It contains compounds that have medicinal properties and these compounds are called curcuminoids, most important of it being curcumin. Curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects and it is also an antioxidant. The curcumin level in turmeric weighs around 3%. Unfortunately, the absorption rate of curcumin in the bloodstream is very poor. For its effectiveness, consume pepper because it contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances absorption rate of curcumin by 2000%.
- TURMERIC HELPS IN INCREASING ANTIOXIDANT IN THE BODY
Antioxidants help in protecting our bodies from the free radicals. Oxidant damage fastens aging process and many diseases. Free radicals react with organic substances like proteins, DNA and fatty acids. Curcumin in the turmeric helps in neutralizing the free radicals due to its chemical structure. Boosting of the antioxidant enzymes activity in the body is also done with the help of curcumin. Thus curcumin helps in punching against free radicals by blocking them directly and stimulating the body’s own oxidant mechanism.
- CURCUMIN HELPS IN BODY IMPROVEMENTS SUCH AS LOWERING THE RISK OF HEART DISEASES
Heart disease is among the leading killer disease in the world. Curcumin helps in improving the function of endothelium (lining of the blood vessels.). It also helps in reversing many heart processes. Studies show that the major driver of heart disease is endothelial dysfunction. The dysfunction contributes to the endothelium inability to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and other factors. Research shows that curcumin is as good as drug Atorvastatin and as effective as exercise. It also helps in reducing oxidation and inflammation which are important to the heart disease. Patients undergoing coronary artery bypass were asked randomly to either take 4 grams of curcumin or placebo per day for few days before and after surgery. Results showed that the group that consumed curcumin had decreased experience of getting heart attack by 65% in the hospital.
- TURMERIC HELPS IN PREVENTING (EVEN CURING) CANCER
One common thing about many types of cancer is that they seem to be affected by curcumin supplementation. Curcumin is a beneficial herb that helps in cancer treatment. It affects the growth of the cancer, its development and the spread at the molecular level. In a study that was carried out showed that it can help in reducing the growth of new blood vessels in the tumors (angiogenesis), spreading of the cancer (metastasis) ,and also contributes to the death of cancerous cells. Studies have shown that growth of the cancerous cells in the laboratory and growth of tumors in test animals can be reduced by curcumin. It has not been tested properly if high dosage of curcumin can help in human’s treatment of cancer. However some evidence show that it can be of help in preventing cancer occurrence mostly cancer of digestive system.
In a study that was carried out in men with lesions in the colon showed that 4 grams of curcumin per day for 30 days can reduce 40% of the lesions. Research on curcumin is being done intensively as it looks promising to be used along with the conventional cancer treatment in the future.
- IT HELPS IN TREATING AND PREVENTING ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
This disease is the leading cause of dementia and it’s the common neurodegenerative disease in the world. Inflammation and oxidative damage contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. One of the features of Alzheimer’s disease is the building up of Amyloid plaques (which are protein tangles). Curcumin can help in clearing the plaques.
- CURCUMIN SUPPLEMENTATION CAN BE OF HELP TO ARTHRITIS PATIENTS
Arthritis may involve inflammation in the joints and it is commonly found in western countries. Studies show that curcumin can help in arthritis since it is a potent anti-inflammatory. In a study that was carried out from patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed that curcumin was more effective than anti-inflammatory drug. Other studies showed that curcumin can help improve arthritis symptoms.
- CURCUMIN IS A NATURAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY COMPOUND
Inflammation plays a role in helping the body fight foreign invaders and repairing damage. Were it not for inflammation, pathogens such as bacteria would take over our bodies and kill us. Short term acute inflammation is of benefit but the long term inflammation can become a major problem. Curcumin is a strong inflammatory and it matches its effectiveness to some inflammatory drugs.
- CURCUMIN HAS BENEFITS AGAINST DEPRESSION
Curcumin has incredible benefits in treating depression.60 patients were used in a study to show the effects of curcumin on depression. They were divided into three groups. One group took Prozac the other took a gram of curcumin and the third one took both curcumin and Prozac. After 6 weeks, the group that took curcumin had led to improvements similar to Prozac. The group that took both, fared best. It was concluded that curcumin is an effective antidepressant. Depression is associated with the shrinking of hippocampus (area of the brain with learning and memory functions)and reducing the levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor. Some evidence shows that curcumin helps in boosting serotonin, dopamine and neurotransmitters in the brain.
- CURCUMIN HELPS IN BOOSTING BRAIN DERIVED NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR
This is linked to reduced risks of brain disease and improved brain function. Neurons can form new connections in specific parts of the brain. They can also increase and multiply in number. Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is one type of growth hormone in the brain is one of the main drivers of this process. Many diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease are associated to decreased levels of this hormone. Curcumin helps in increasing the level of BNFD in the brain. This means there are possibilities of improving memory and making you smarter.
- CURCUMIN HELPS IN FIGHTING AGE RELATED CHRONIC DISEASES AND DELAYING AGING.
Curcumin helps in preventing heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This means it has benefits for longevity and that is why it has become popular anti-aging supplement.
NUTRITION FACTS ABOUT TURMERIC
It contains curcumin that has polyphenolic compound in the roots. It contains antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-ischemic, anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory properties. What gives the dark orange color of turmeric is the pigment.
It is rich in vitamins such as vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, riboflavin and choline. 100 g herb can provide 1.80 mg or 138% of pyridoxine. This amount is the daily recommended amount of pyridoxine. Pyridoxine helps in treatment of anemia, radiation sickness, sideroblastic and homocystinuria treatment. Niacin helps in prevention of dermatitis.
Good amounts of vitamin C can be derived from the fresh roots of turmeric.23.9g of vitamin Ccan be contained in 100 of the root. Vitamin C being water soluble vitamin is a natural antioxidant. It helps in development of immunity against diseases. It also helps in the removal of free oxygen radicals.
Turmeric contains minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese ,copper and potassium. Potassium is of great importance to the body as it helps in the controlling blood pressure and heart rate. It is a component of cell and body fluid. Manganese acts as a co factor for superoxide dismutase and for antioxidant enzyme. Iron is required for the red blood levels(RBC’S) productions. It is important for cytochrome oxidase enzyme for the cellular level metabolisms.
Turmeric is one of the cheapest herb that contains phytonutrients. 100g of turmeric provides:
- 138% of vitamin B-6(Pyridoxine)
- 53% of dietary fiber
- 32% of niacin
- 43% of vitamin c
- 21% of vitamin E
- 54% of potassium
- 40% of zinc
- 517% of iron
- 340% of manganese
- 0% cholesterol.
You can either take turmeric in form of powder, crushed root or fresh root. The intake can help in keeping away diseases such as anemia, neuritis, memory disorders and can help in preventing against high blood pressure, stroke, cancers and some infectious diseases.
SERVING TIPS OF TURMERIC
- In India it is used in preparing a curry masala powder. The root are sun dried, then mixed with other spices, peppers, curry leaves, then roasted and ground to make the masala.
- It has been used in preparing soups and salad, it has also been used in food industries such as baked products, canned beverages, ice-cream, yogurt, orange juice, biscuits, cake icings, cereals, sauces, dairy products yellow cakes, sauces etc.
- The leaves have also been used to add flavor into some dishes like rice milk payasam and ghee in regions of South Asian, parts of South India and Thailand
- It enhances flavor and fragrance to the dishes. Turmeric powder can be used with any meat or vegetable meal and it mixes well with other herbs.
- It acts as a preservative. The paste is used in marinating chicken, fish and meat to lengthen shelf life. This is done to fish to offset the stingy smell.