Turmeric: From Ancient Spice to Modern Superfood
This article was originally published through WELLSEEK.
From lattes to curries, turmeric is making a name for itself in today’s culinary creations. But turmeric has a rich history rooted in the Vedic culture in India dating back nearly 4,000 years! Its use has both religious and culinary significance in India. Known for its stunning yellow color, turmeric is referred to as “Indian Saffron.”
I love both the religious and culinary importance turmeric has in the Indian culture. At a family gathering the night before my husband and I got married we had a Haldi Ceremony (part of the traditional Indian wedding events leading up to the big day). During the ritual our family and friends painted us with Haldi: a paste made of turmeric, sandlewood powder, and rose water. During this fun, colorful ceremony our hands, feet, legs, arms and faces were covered with Haldi to signify blessings, to beautify, and to ward off evil spirits in preparation of our wedding day.
Check us out! I'm cheesing for the camera and my mom is putting Haldi on my husband.
Now that we know how to put turmeric on our bodies let's talk about how to reap the health benefits by getting it in our bodies.
COOKING WITH TURMERIC
Turmeric is a knobby root belonging to the ginger family with peppery, spicy, and pungent notes. The root can be found in two forms: dried, powered (as the spice) or fresh.
The fresh root (peeled) or powered spice can be added to a smoothie for a nutritional boost.
Add the spice to a soup or stew for a flavorful, rich broth.
Pair turmeric with other spices. In Indian cooking turmeric is not typically used as the only spice. Turmeric pairs well with other traditional Indian spices like ground ginger, chili, and mustard seeds to give the cuisine its complex flavors.
WHAT MAKES TURMERIC SUPER?
2 teaspoons of Turmeric provides you with: 17% daily value of manganese and 10% daily value of iron. Curcumin is a yellow pigment compound in turmeric most widely studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The beneficial properties in turmeric (like curcumin) are likely best absorbed by the body when the spice is consumed as an addition to a meal. For example, black pepper helps to enhance the body’s absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Let’s take a look at a few more reasons this spice is a powerhouse.
Chronic Disease Prevention
Numerous studies demonstrate that curcumin is a potent antimicrobial that plays an active role in various diseases including diabetes, obesity, heart disease and autoimmune diseases.
Compounds with anti-inflammatory properties such as curcumin may be beneficial for alleviating symptoms related to joint arthritis.
Curcumin supplementation may support Exercise Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD) by decreasing inflammation produced during exercise which may translate to quicker recovery from exercise.
Curcumin’s antioxidant potential has been suggested as an approach to blunt the development of Type II Diabetes.
Alleviating Symptoms of Depression
Curcumin may play a role in elevating mood as demonstrated in a study in which differing doses of curcumin and combined curcumin/saffron were effective in reducing depressive symptoms in people with major depressive disorder.
Get started with these turmeric recipes from my blog:
Butternut Squash Red Lentil and Turmeric Soup
Indian Sweet Potato & Chickpea Toss
Do you cook with turmeric? Tell me in the comments!