Jul 11, 2017

Exploring tasty turmeric; a truly super spice


For most of us, it’s that bright orange powder that has been hidden at the back of the spice cupboard. It grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia and, whilst it has been used as one of the key ingredients in many Pakistani, Indian, Persian and Thai dishes for thousands of years, most of us only know it as the spice that adds the yellow colour to our curries.

However, Turmeric’s tale is turning. Scientists are starting to catch up and realise what Indian’s have known for centuries; Turmeric contains medicinal properties.

So, what benefits does this ancient spice offer us and is it all hype or is there some credibility to its claims? Find out as we touch on our top Turmeric highlights:

Could it be bye-bye to Alzheimer’s?

If you read the World Alzheimer's Report from 2009, it showed that 3.6 per cent of South Asians over the age of 60 suffer from dementia, compared with 6.4 per cent of Australasians and 7.2 per cent of Western Europeans. Is this just a coincidence? Or is it something worth taking note of? Scientists have been asking the same question.

It is believed that the curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties could be strong enough to break down the amyloid plaques in the brain that contribute to Alzheimer's disease.  In fact, a 2014 study published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy, reported that Aromatic (ar-) turmerone might even regenerate neural stem cells.

Or in other words, Turmeric may not only protect us against the onset of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, but actually reverse damage done by those diseases by re-growing brain cells. Super spice indeed!

Could it prevent cancer?

Finding the cure for cancer. It’s something we continually hope for. And there have been many breakthroughs in recent years with different medicines and foods; including Turmeric.

Jonny Bowden, author of ‘The 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth (Fair Winds)’, says that there are at least 30 studies showing that curcumin may have an anti-tumour effect, "either reducing the number or size of tumours or the percentage of animals who developed them".

It is still early days and there is a lot more research to be carried out, but initial indications from recent studies show that Turmeric did inhibit the growth of colon cancers and, when mixed with vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, may treat or prevent prostate cancer.

It’s still too early to call it the miracle cure we’ve all been looking for, but there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest it could be useful addition to a healthy diet.

Is it a win for diabetes?

It is believed that Turmeric may improve glucose control or insulin activity. When used in animal research, it was shown to cause blood sugar levels to drop.

However, user beware. If you add turmeric to your diet, it is suggested that you monitor your blood sugars as, when combined with diabetes medication, it may cause levels to drop too low, resulting in hypoglycaemia.

And that’s not it.

The list doesn’t stop there, from being a natural painkiller and liver detoxifier to its assistance in weight management and positive affect on depression, it is an ancient spice with dozens of positive health benefits.

What’s the best way to enjoy it?

Positive as this miracle spice is, how do we get it out from the back of the cupboard and onto our day-to-day diets?

1) Pop it in your food.

You can literally add turmeric to anything from your cooked meat, vegetable and egg recipes, to the water when you boil rice or pasta, add it to soups – even to a watermelon smoothie. Have a look at our recipe section for more exciting ideas.

2) Grab a cuppa.

When looking for a warming and earthy beverage, why not try some good-for-you Turmeric tea? Simply simmer with milk and honey, and enjoy. For added health benefits, add a bit of black pepper which will help absorb the goodness from the Turmeric.

3) Slap it on your skin.

Mix some ground turmeric with a little water (you can also use coconut oil, almond oil, or sesame oil) and apply it to areas of inflamed or itchy skin caused by the likes of eczema. However, beware that it will stain your skin temporarily, so use on areas which are easy to keep covered.

What are you waiting for?

It’s a positive thumbs up from us for the very tasty turmeric. And it’s a motivation for us all to get a little more of this super spice into our diets. Go on. Get it out from the back of the cupboard and give it some space front and centre.

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