Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that is extremely cultivated in India, China, Indonesia, and other tropical countries.

Turmeric powder was traditionally referred to as “Indian Saffron” as its deep yellow-orange color is reminiscent of saffron’s. Turmeric is the major ingredient in curry powder and is also used in prepared mustard as a coloring agent.

Even though Arab traders introduced turmeric into Europe in the 13th Century, it has become popular in Western cultures only recently. Much of its newfound popularity is owned to the recent scientific study that has characterized its therapeutic abilities.

India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti and Jamaica are the leading worldwide producers of turmeric today.

Health benefits:

Turmeric has been and still is a key component of both the Chinese and Indian system of medicine, where it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin, turmeric’s yellow pigment has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models with effects comparable to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Nurofen without the side effects.

Clinical studies have also substantiated that curcumin exerts very powerful antioxidant effects, enabling it to protect healthy cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA and lead to cancer.

Furthermore, curcumin helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread through the body and cause more harm

Curcumin also:

– Inhibits the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines

– Enhances the body’s production of cancer-fighting compounds

– Promotes the liver’s proper detoxification of cancer-causing compounds

While more human studies are needed on the use of curcumin in cancer treatment, the experimental and preliminary studies are quite encouraging.

In addition to protecting against cancer, turmeric also may be able to help in the prevention of heart disease as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson and multiple sclerosis.

Tips to select and store:

Turmeric is available as a ground powder but, like ginger, is available as the fresh rhizome. Free turmeric should be free of dark spots and be crisp. It may be stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for one month. Alternatively, it can be chopped or slices and stored in an airtight container for up to three months.

Color of turmeric powder is not necessarily a criterion of quality, however, try to select organically grown dried turmeric since they are much less likely to have been irradiated.

Turmeric powder should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark, dry place, where it will keep for up to one year.

Tips for use & serving ideas:

  • Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature legumes, particularly lentils.
  • Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color and richer flavor.
  • Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them.

For the sake of simplicity, this article is kept short. If you need more details, leave a comment.

Reference: The encyclopedia of healing foods, Dr Michael Murray and Dr Joseph Pizzorno with Lara Pizzorno.

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