What is turmeric? what is turmeric good for? and how can you use turmeric? In this blog post I want to briefly answer these three questions for you! AND I will also share with you my favorite recipe for incorporating turmeric into my diet.
WHAT IS TURMERIC?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizome, which basically means that is a root, primarily cultivated in India, as well as in other parts of Southeast Asia. You might recognize turmeric as the yellow-colored spice that is traditional to South Asian and Middle-Eastern cuisine. It’s easy to recognize this ancient spice for its bright color, pungent flavor, and mild aroma. While you’ve probably only used turmeric in its dried and powdered form, it can also be found and used fresh (after being peeled and grated.)
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC
The use of turmeric for healing, as well as for cooking and religious purposes, can be traced back about 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India. Throughout time, the use of turmeric in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine has been granted to the numerous health benefits that this spice is believed to give. While the most frequent uses of turmeric in Ayurveda seem to be blood purification and the treatment of skin conditions, it is also commonly used for balancing cholesterol levels, boosting immunity, detoxifying the liver, fighting inflammation, improving respiratory health, pain management, promoting gastrointestinal health, and supporting cognitive function.
TURMERIC AS AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
One of the most amazing qualities of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties, which has a great deal to do with one of the active compounds found in turmeric: curcumin. But what is inflammation anyway? Aside from the physiological response to an infection or a tissue injury, inflammation can also be “the product of complex series of responses triggered by the immune system.” In other words, while inflammation in many cases may be nothing more than the body adapting to infection or injury, inflammation in the body can also refer to a deeper issue that has the potential to become ‘chronic’, and can then lead to a variety of chronic diseases, such as “arthritis, pancreatitis, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases, as well as certain types of cancer.”
The good news is that there is extensive research that shows the therapeutic potential that curcumin may have in the treatment of inflammatory conditions and cancers. The research shows that the benefit behind the use of turmeric for diseases associated with chronic inflammation is granted to curcumin’s ability to alleviate oxidative stress (an imbalance that can lead to cell damage, and if persistent, can cause chronic inflammation.) Curcumin’s potential to act as an oxidative stress reduction agent can therefore be considered as beneficial in the prevention of chronic diseases!
BUYING AND CONSUMING TURMERIC
The most natural, gentle, and easiest way to begin incorporating turmeric into your diet is to cook with it! You can easily find turmeric in its dried and powdered form in the condiment section of your local food store, and you can often find fresh turmeric root in the produce section. I would recommend looking for turmeric that is organic, in order to avoid the consumption of pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Here are a few ways you can incorporate turmeric into your food:
- Add 1-2 tsp of ground turmeric OR fresh turmeric (peeled and grated) to soups, lentils, roasted or sautéed veggies, etc.
- Add 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric to your rice or quinoa recipe (add the turmeric to the water you use to cook the rice or quinoa.)
- Add 1 inch of fresh turmeric (after peeling it) to smoothies or juices.
- Add 1 inch of fresh turmeric (peeled and grated) to salads.
- Make a warm cup of golden milk using fresh or ground turmeric (SEE MY RECIPE AT THE END OF THIS POST!)
***While you can also find good quality turmeric supplements out there, I would not recommend taking any without first discussing your individual needs with your doctor and/or dietitian. It is strongly recommended that people who have gallstones, obstruction of bile passages, or diabetes, speak with their doctor before consuming turmeric and/or turmeric supplements. And while pregnant and breastfeeding women can consume foods that contain turmeric, it is not recommended that they take turmeric supplements.***
ENHANCING TURMERIC ABSORPTION
Through various studies done, curcumin (one of the active compounds found in turmeric) has shown to be inadequately absorbed in the body. Fortunately, it has also been found that consuming curcumin in combination with piperine (an alkaloid found in black pepper) can increase the bioavailability of curcumin substantially. A study found that humans that consumed 2g of just curcumin had “undetectable or very low” levels of curcumin, while humans that consumed the curcumin with 20 mg of piperine increased curcumin’s bioavailability by 2,000%.
- I would recommend adding 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper to every 1 tsp of turmeric you consume to enhance absorption naturally.
GOLDEN MILK RECIPE
Now finally, my favorite way to drink the benefits of turmeric is by making a warm cup of GOLDEN MILK! I’ve been obsessed with making this drink ever since I was introduced to it a few months ago. It feels like I am drinking a natural and powerful tonic that soothes my digestive system and eases my senses.
Aside from turmeric, the other main ingredient needed in this recipe is GINGER! and I could dedicate a whole other blog post to talk about the benefits of consuming fresh ginger..but all I’ll say today is that it’s wonderful for a healthy digestion, muscle pain/soreness, and for nausea.
Hope you give this a try & let me know in the comments below what you think! ♡
GOLDEN MILK ❁ vegan | plant-based | gluten free.
Restore your mind-body-spirit with this warm, soothing, and delicious drink. Enjoy the powerful benefits of fresh turmeric and ginger. Perfect for any time of the day!
- 1 tsp fresh turmeric (peeled and finely chopped) you can also use ground turmeric instead, but make sure to add it to step 1*
- 1 tsp fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp coconut oil virgin and unrefined
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk unsweetened
Pour the almond milk into a small pot on medium to high heat until you see the milk begin to lightly simmer (do not boil the milk). *If you are using ground turmeric, combine it with the milk before heating it up.
Combine the hot almond milk with all other ingredients into your blender. Blend on the lowest setting for about 30 seconds with the lid slightly open to let the steam out. Then, secure the lid tightly and blend at the highest speed for another 30 seconds. All ingredients should be nicely blended and it should all look smooth and frothy!
Serve immediately into your cup and drink up!