The three beneficial HOWs of Turmeric! How does it work? How do you buy it and how do you use it? All answered here by our amazing contributing physician Beth Ricanati, MD.
Looking for a food ingredient that has a tremendous amount of science behind it, tastes good, and keeps us healthy? Let’s talk about the iconic Indian spice, turmeric. Ayurvedic and Indian medicine practitioners have been using turmeric for thousands of years; now researchers have been able to pinpoint what the Ayurvedic practitioners knew all along: turmeric is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory substance.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has documented anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin also contains other important nutrients for our health, like magnesium and iron.
Why should you care about curcumin? Simply, many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer obesity and even Alzheimer’s disease, are in large part caused by inflammation in the body. In addition, inflammation is the culprit behind aches and pains like what you might experience with diseases like arthritis, and even just after a hard workout.
1. How does turmeric work? Research shows that curcumin prevents cellular oxidation, which is a fancy way of saying it blocks a molecule in our bodies that turns on the “inflammatory cascade”. No “inflammatory cascade”, no inflammation! Thus, turmeric helps to stop inflammation before it even starts!
2. How to buy turmeric? Turmeric is available in root form, powdered form and in a pill. It’s hard to grind yourself, so buy the powdered form unless you are throwng a piece into a strong mixer for a smoothie! Turmeric as a spice comes from two places in India, Alleppey and Madras. Look for the powdered turmeric from Alleppey; it has more curcumin in it.
3. How to use turmeric? Although most of us recognize turmeric in Indian curries, recently it has been showing up in a diverse array of dishes. I have found it’s great in smoothies, soups and stews. I have even seen it recently in beverages and with just hot water, ginger and lemon. My current personal favorite are dark leafy greens stir-fried with eggs and a hefty dose of turmeric!