I’ve always been interested in researching the world’s healthiest foods so I can incorporate them into my diet. This interest has been the catalyst of my lifelong passion for nutrition and dietetics. Learning about the different macronutrients, vitamin, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and how they work synergistically to help the body ward of disease and sickness is compelling to me. During my research, one plant continues to stick out due to its vast amount of health benefits. This plant is called Turmeric.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice that has been used most notability in India for thousands of years for medical and health purposes. The main active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant that is associated with many health benefits. Some of these health benefits include improving cognitive function, fighting inflammation, supporting cardiovascular function, supporting joint health, and optimizing liver function. These are only a few benefits associated with turmeric and many more are consistently being discovered. Curcumin is also found in the popular Indian spice curry.
Turmeric is found in most grocery stores on the spice and seasoning aisle. It can be incorporated in many dishes and beverages. Some popular ways of using Turmeric include blending it into smoothies, sprinkling it on roasted vegetables, cooking it in rice, adding it to soups, and brewing in tea. My personal favorite is blending it in my blueberry, banana, pineapple, kale, chia/flaxseed smoothies.
Turmeric is most harmless for most healthy people and people with various chronic diseases. Like all foods, there are probably some individuals that may have an allergic reaction to it, but this is rare.
One major concern with using turmeric was brought up in book “Food Forensics”. This book identified dangerous levels of lead contamination in several turmeric products. The finding in the book resulted in at least three food manufacturers Gel Spice, JM Exotic Foods and Gel Spice to issue voluntary recalls of their turmeric products. To avoid buying turmeric that potentially contaminated with heavy metals, it may be smart to buy organic products from reputable sources.
By: Germaine Guy, RD, LDN