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Power of Spice: Turmeric
In this new series, we will focus on some of the most amazing spices you can easily add to your food to receive their benefits. There are quite a few! Not only do spices add a flavor boost to your meals, pleasant aroma, and often also color, some of them have really significant health benefits. Let’s take a closer look to our first suspect: Turmeric. Turmeric is a rhizome of the plant Curcuma Longa, a member of the ginger family. You can find it in stores labeled as Turmeric Root, it looks just like ginger root, only Turmeric has a bright mustardy yellow-orange color. It comes from southern Asia. If you’ve never gotten your hands on a piece of fresh Turmeric, you probably know it in its more common form dried and then finely ground into a powder form, sold in the spice aisle of your grocery store.
Ground turmeric is very popular in Indian cuisine and it is a component of the spice blend you know as curry (if you are anything like me, you maybe thought curry was just an individual spice, coming from a curry plant, and you often wondered why turmeric and curry powders looked and smelled very similar. There is a curry plant, but curry powder is a blend combining it with other spices). You can also buy turmeric powder in some ethnic stores labeled as Indian Saffron. The powder stains any porous surface it touches (my old plastic cutting board is yellow for good, and when I mix a generous amount of turmeric with ground meat for some Indian inspired meatballs, my nails have a yellow tint for a few days). Expect it to stain any wood, plastic, countertops, skin, or fabric it comes in contact with.
Turmeric is very versatile in the kitchen, but also in skincare. It contains curcumin, a very powerful anti-inflammatory compound that is extracted from turmeric to be later used as a natural coloring agent in various foods. Most of the health benefits we actually consume turmeric for are available because of curcumin. It is important to note that we hardly ever consume as much turmeric as we would need to receive these benefits and for that reason, concentrated curcumin supplements are often used instead. But you will never go wrong with using this bright yellow powder in your curries, stews, or in a chicken or fish recipe (it goes great with both).
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent and also is proven to have some anti-cancerous properties, which you can learn more about in these studies. It was also tested and shown to relieve osteoarthritis pain and improve blood sugar regulation in Type 2 Diabetics. Anti-cancer studies were only run on animals, but the results are promising there as well. The only downside of curcumin is that it is not very easily absorbed by the body, but the good news is that piperine, present in black pepper, makes it much more available, so turmeric is often paired with black pepper in recipes and supplements. One of my favorite things in the world is homemade ghee infused with turmeric and black pepper. It adds a surprising boost of flavor to any meal and is even yummy just eaten off a spoon.
Using whole Turmeric (and Turmeric powder) might not be as concentrated as isolated curcumin, but it is certainly a better option for the human body as it is a whole food and it contains a lot of other supporting compounds that naturally come with it. With all those trace elements, the healing power of turmeric is boosted to its maximum potential. It helps stimulate your liver and helps with detoxification from heavy metals, inhibits some important enzymes that help with skin elasticity, fights free radicals to prevent inflammation, and protects your brain by dissolving excess protein in the tissue. Turmeric (and curcumin) also help to prevent Alzheimer’s (here is a study on that), used topically it improves the healing of wounds, and also helps with muscle damage and muscle soreness you may experience from exercise.
In the kitchen, you don’t have to immediately season everything with turmeric, but there are plenty of great ways to add it into your dishes. Adding some turmeric in bone broth is one of the easiest, (we already taught you how to make super delicious, nutrient dense broth at home), feel free to add a teaspoon or two to the pot before you start cooking to enhance the magic. You can even add grated fresh Turmeric root if you are able to get it. This chicken and coconut milk curry recipe is absolutely amazing, but you don’t need to get as fancy as that, just a simple coconut milk sauce with some turmeric added along with spices like ginger, lemongrass, lime, garlic, black pepper, hot chillies, cilantro, or mint will do the trick. I like it with eggs (just powdered or the turmeric ghee I mentioned above), on veggies, stews, chicken, roasted salmon, or roasted cauliflower (this combination showed some good results in this prostate cancer prevention study).
You have probably heard a thing or two about Golden Milk. This warm deliciousness is often made by those who want to boost their immunity, prevent colds, and relax before bed. I made it at home a few times before even though I still prefer drinking a warm mug of bone broth sometimes you need a little bit of something sweet in your life without grabbing a sugar loaded Starbucks drink. It is very simple to make, it smells amazing, and tastes like heaven in a cup. Grab a basic recipe here and feel free to experiment with more or less sweetness, adding more spices of your choice (I really love adding cardamom, ground cloves, vanilla bean powder, or star anise powder. It smells like Christmas and it is like my own super healthy version of Gingerbread Latte. Try adding a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses for extra iron and sweetness).
Mixing some golden turmeric powder with honey makes a wonderful cough medicine that even kids will love, and raw honey has its own benefits that will only add to the magic of turmeric! But this is not the only use of this combination! Use it directly on your skin to spot treat acne or apply it all over your face for 5 minutes for a soothing face mask! You can even add some additional essential oils like lavender, cedarwood, or sandalwood for even more antibacterial properties. Five minutes is usually a safe amount of time to have it on for without your skin being stained, but I recommend using an old washcloth to wipe the mask off. A friend of mine uses turmeric as a teeth brightener.
He used to suffer from yellow stained teeth from drinking too much coffee, but he started using turmeric powder before he brushes with toothpaste and slowly but steadily, the coffee staining has faded. Mommypottamus has a whole post about this method, if you are curious! Click here to read even more amazing benefits and uses of turmeric powder! Our Liposomal Turmeric is not an isolated supplement, but actually a whole food extract that absorbs easily into your body, so you can experience all the good things turmeric has to offer. It is blended with fulvic acid, a soil-based antioxidant that supports healing in the body, just like turmeric does, so these powerful compounds add to each other to bring you the best results. If you are looking for high quality powdered turmeric, try this one or go explore some ethnic spice stores in your area. You never know what gems you will find while you are there!