In the Western world, we tend to view our spice rack as a source of flavour rather than medicine – yet that’s what it is. After all, before medication as we know it became available, people the world over looked to herbs and spices to prevent and cure illness.
And the queen of spices? Turmeric.
Over the past few decades, there’s been a whole slew of research devoted to this “sacred spice.” Curcumin is the magical substance which gives turmeric its gorgeous golden colour – not to mention its myriad health benefits.
So, why’s it so good for us? Well, here’s a quick CV of turmeric…
It’s great for stiff or creaky joints and arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It aids cancer prevention, fighting free radicals and helping to maintain healthy cells. It improves liver detoxification. It curbs fat growth and reduces weight gain. It neutralises free radicals and enhances the body’s own production of antioxidants, so it’s powerfully anti-aging.
As a footnote: India has a very low incidence of Alzheimer’s – something that many people attribute to the daily consumption of turmeric. Compare this to the UK, where recent research suggests that, horrifyingly, one in three babies born this year will go on to develop dementia.
Turmeric also helps your heart by reducing bad cholesterol, preventing blood clots and plaque build-up in arteries. Its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties help to strengthen your immune system. It also reduces blood sugar and it even has mood-enhancing, antidepressant effects.
Phew! Now, if there was a pill available that did all that, we’d all be popping them.
Turmeric has a warm, earthy flavour that adds a certain something to smoothies, veggies, eggs (I add it to my poached eggs or omelette for breakfast) and, of-course, curries. Black pepper vastly increases the body’s absorbency of turmeric so try to pair it with that. Adding a dash of oil will also help your body get maximum benefit from it.
As well as being available as a powder, you can also buy fresh turmeric, which looks similar to ginger but has a gorgeous orange colour inside (I buy it at the Unicorn grocery in Manchester).
With all that’s going for it, turmeric is far too good to leave on the shelf and only wheel out for a chicken korma. See if you can get your daily dose of this magic spice!
How will you get yours?