If you love curries, you’re probably familiar with turmeric. It’s the bright-orange spice that gives curry its vibrant yellow colour, but its benefits extend far beyond its culinary superpowers!
In this article, we’ll explain what turmeric is, the main health benefits of turmeric and ways to incorporate it into your diet and supplement regimen.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric derives from the ginger family – it comes from the root of the flowering perennial Curcuma longa plant, which originated in India. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric’s health-promoting properties have made it a long-standing staple in the diets of yogis and Ayurveda practitioners, and it has recently gained mainstream attention as a ‘superfood’.
What are the main health benefits of turmeric?A nutritional powerhouse, turmeric contains essential oils, minerals and fibre. Just one tablespoon of ground turmeric contains:
- 9 g protein
- 4 g carbohydrates
- 196 mg potassium
- 7 mg iron
In addition to its impressive nutritional profile, turmeric shows promising health benefits.
Here are six potential health benefits of turmeric:
1. Reduced Inflammation
Curcumin has been shown to improve the chronic inflammation associated with rheumatism, inflammatory bowel diseases, and knee joint arthrosis. Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have long used turmeric to treat arthritis, and current research suggests that turmeric extract could reduce some of the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
2. Improved Memory
Studies suggest that another active ingredient in turmeric, turmerone, might be helpful to people who have had strokes or who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Turmerone is thought to help initiate cell repair and potentially support the recovery of brain function.
Curcumin also shows promise in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s and in improving memory function in people who are already suffering from the condition.
3.Lowered Heart Disease Risk
Turmeric’s antioxidant properties and ability to reduce inflammation suggest that it could help lower the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that turmeric may also help reverse heart disease by increasing resistance artery endothelial production, which plays a significant role in high blood pressure. Another study showed that patients who took a curcumin supplement a few days before and after coronary artery bypass surgery saw a 65% decreased risk of having a heart attack in hospital.
4. Reduced Diabetes Risk
Curcumin has been shown to improve the insulin sensitivity of blood cells, which has a positive effect on elevated blood sugar levels. The cells can absorb more sugar from the blood, which helps control blood sugar levels. Researchers have also found that turmeric supplements can be an effective preventative measure against developing diabetes.
5. Depression Relief
People who suffer from depression have lower levels than are normal of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). A recent study showed that curcumin can boost BDNF levels – and another study showed that it was equally effective as the antidepressant Prozac in lessening symptoms of depression. Other research suggests that curcumin might also increase serotonin and dopamine levels – the chemicals that regulate mood.
6. Better Weight Control
Bitter substances in turmeric root stimulate bile production, which detoxifies the body and helps with the digestion of fat. Inflammation is a major contributor to weight problems, so curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties can help manage metabolic disorders caused by chronic inflammation. Curcumin also affects the digestive process by helping the body to excrete food more quickly, which makes it more difficult for fat cells to build up. In fact, turmeric’s ability to help with digestion is what first led to its popularity in curries. Turmeric’s metabolism-boosting effects also promote muscle development – and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism!
What foods contain turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice, so you won’t encounter it on its own. It must be intentionally added to food as a seasoning during preparation. Turmeric is most commonly known in its dried and ground form, which is often described as tasting ‘bitter, pungent and earthy’. It’s also available as a fresh root that can be chopped or grated, making it a versatile ingredient that be easily incorporated into a variety of recipes. However, turmeric is most effective when taken as a supplement.
Turmeric-Based and Curcumin SupplementsWhile using turmeric in your cooking can provide some antioxidant benefits, it’s not the best way to reap its potential health benefits. Turmeric-based supplements extract its active ingredient, curcumin, so they contain more potent levels of curcumin than you’ll find in your supermarket.
Something else to consider is that curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body on its own. However, research shows that piperine, a bio-active compound found in black pepper, can enhance the absorption of curcumin into the bloodstream by up to 2,000 percent! Scientists don’t know exactly why this is, but the two most common theories are that piperine makes it easier for curcumin to pass through the intestinal wall and that it slows the breakdown of curcumin in the liver – both of which would lead to higher blood concentrations of this powerful compound.
DESEJR® offers a high-quality curcumin supplement that’s been enriched with peperine for easier absorption. This one-capsule-a day supplement is 100% vegan and free from artificial flavours and colourings, added sugar, GMOs, lactose, gluten, and most common allergens.
Like curcumin, Peperine also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to improve digestion – so it makes good sense to combine these compounds into a single smartly formulated supplement.