This simple spice is a real gem in the food cupboard – here's why!
Spices are well documented as powerful superfoods, and turmeric is one of the key players. So, why should you be adding more of it to your diet, and how can you do this if you are unfamiliar with it? We take a look at its important properties for health and some great ways to include it in your diet.
Turmeric can help keep your heart healthy
Curcumin, which is the compound in turmeric, has been found to have cardiovascular benefits, meaning that eating it regularly can help to keep your heart healthy, when combined with a balanced diet and exercise regime. One of the reasons for this is discussed further in the next point – but it has anti-inflammatory properties, and helps to regulate the repair of cells.
It boosts your immune system
Turmeric offers support to your immune system, thanks to its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. These help to remove bad bacteria from your body, allowing you to fight off infections. These factors also help to support your gut health – useful for those who suffer from issues such as indigestion, or those who suffer from painful stomach spasms.
Turmeric has been shown to prevent age-related diseases
The curcumin within turmeric can help to reduce pain associated with certain conditions. It does this by slowing down the process of inflamation within the body, and helps the repair process to the cells. Thanks to this slowing down of inflammation, those who eat it regularly can see an improvement in conditions often associated with ageing, such as arthritis and osteoperosis. It also has a fantastic impact on your skin.
It can have an impact on pre-cancerous cells
Cancer Research UK has said that although further research into this point is needed, turmeric does appear to have a positive effect on pre-cancerous cells, based on a clinical trial. Alongside this, some lab studies have shown that turmeric does seem to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. Researchers are continuing to study this point, but the signs so far are good.
Turmeric has antibacterial properties
If you suffer from skin conditions, such as adult acne and eczema, turmeric’s antibacterial properties can help fight back against these. It does this by regulating the skin’s oil production – and oily skin is often one of the main factors in numerous issues, as it blocks pores.
Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the active substance curcumin contained within it. Research by Arthritis Foundation has shown that including turmeric in your diet can help reduce pain and inflammation in conditions such as osteoarthritis. Curcumin slows down the inflammatory process in the body and eating small amounts regularly seems to help.
Turmeric is rich in antioxidants. We have all been told that fruits and vegetables contain lots of antioxidants, but now we know that turmeric acts as a very strong antioxidant, too. Antioxidants neutralise substances called ‘free radicals’ within the body which are a by-product of metabolism. If they are not neutralised they can lead to damaged cells which increase the risk of disease.
Curcumin can have an effect on pre-cancerous cells according to Cancer Research UK. More research is needed but studies have shown that countries where there is daily consumption of 100-200mg of turmeric over a long period of time have lower cancer rates.
If you are struggling to think of ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet, there are plenty of things you can try – from a wide range of delicious curries, to soups, stews, rice dishes, and even smoothies and turmeric tea, so there really is something for everyone to enjoy!
Turmeric grows as a root, or ‘rhizome’ (much like ginger), and these can be found in supermarkets and specialist shops, but it is most commonly found in powder form. The fresh roots will tend to have slightly more flavour and add more of a pop to your dishes, but the powder form will store for longer.
Gulshinder Johal is a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. For more information, visit bda.uk.com