By Sean Zucker –
You’ve heard the advice your entire life: You gotta spice it up. It almost doesn’t matter what. You’re warned to constantly add something exciting to relationships, hobbies or exercise routines to keep them engaging, interesting and rewarding. Ironically, the most literal application of this advice—adding spice to your food—may be the most profound. And one spice in particular is uniquely qualified to not only ignite your tastes buds, but also help keep you healthy–turmeric.
A relative of ginger, turmeric is a flowering plant whose roots have been used to season foods for centuries. Commonly known for its vivid yellow-orange hue, the spice has been utilized in Asia for thousands of years, initially used as a dye and then eventually as a folk medicine. The turmeric proponents were far ahead of their time on that front given the plethora of health benefits that have been discovered and studied on the planet since.
Turmeric offers a truly wide range of physical and even mental benefits. Due to its inflammation-reducing impact, the spice has been proven useful in preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association underscored its benefits through a 2012 double blind study. The association worked with a group of 240 adults who either took a placebo or an oral curcumin (a naturally occurring chemical compound found primarily in turmeric) twice a day for nine months. At the end of the study, 16 percent of those who took the placebo were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, while none of the participants who took the curcumin pills developed the condition. The study reported those taking curcumin seemingly had improved beta cell functioning, which is directly responsible for the body’s ability to produce and release insulin and amylin.
The spice’s medicinal benefits don’t stop there. Turmeric apparently can even help ease severe noggin pain, according to a recent Iranian study. With its chemical similarity to ginger, a known natural headache remedy, it’s no surprise that turmeric provides similar protection. However, the Iranian study claims the spice has the ability to soothe the most severe form of the common condition in migraines. The two-month study focused on 72 migraine suffers who were divided into four groups. One group was given curcumin, another omega-3 fatty acids, the third took a combination of the two, and the final group was given a placebo. The results saw a significant reduction in migraine occurrence in the groups that took just curcumin or a combination of curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids.
Still not convinced to toss some turmeric on your next dish? Consider that the spice has been recently linked to preventing and aiding the treatment of such devastating conditions as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer. According to WebMD, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric may aid in softening stiffness and joint pain associated with arthritis, as well as the chronic inflammation common with Alzheimer’s disease. The site also cited various lab and animal studies in which turmeric stopped the growth of tumor cells and helped detoxifying enzymes work more efficiently.
Let’s break it down. One tablespoon of ground turmeric contains a mere 29 calories, however the small spoonful is chocked in dietary benefits that include nearly a gram of protein and two grams of fiber.
The numerous health benefits aside, the plant root is also delicious and versatile in the kitchen. It is commonly added to rice, roasted with vegetables or used in making tea. There is certainly no shortage of other turmeric-based recipes as well.
So maybe that advice was right after all. Next time you’re cooking add a little more spice to your life and sprinkle in some turmeric. Tastes great and you might just wind of being healthier for it.