That gorgeous yellow hue in curry comes from turmeric, and its beauty is far from skin-deep. The active ingredient in this anti-inflammatory powerhouse is curcumin.
Curcumin has been found to be more effective than both aspirin and ibuprofen in controlling inflammation and reducing pain. Coupled with its safety record, this makes it a top choice for arthritis and pain management.
The body produces pro-inflammatory signaling compounds called eicosanoids, which curcumin slows down, thereby decreasing chronic systemic inflammation.
Turmeric is one of the most frequently studied medicinal herbs — more than 4,000 studies are posted on PubMed.gov, not surprising once you discover its varied health benefits.
These include lowering blood glucose levels and reversing insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes. A study conducted at Auburn University in 2009 found the curcumin in turmeric is 400 times more potent than the common diabetes drug metformin in activating AMPK, which improves insulin sensitivity, which in turn can help reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Clinical studies around the globe have found the benefits of turmeric include helping to manage depression, improve circulation, prevent blood clotting, and manage inflammatory bowel disease.
It also has been shown to improve the oxygen intake of the brain, thereby increasing brain function, according to the results of three studies conducted in Australia at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney.
And Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found turmeric has an ability to inhibit cancer cell growth as well as kill cancer cells.
The best ways to get turmeric into your diet are in capsule form and on your plate. If you think turmeric is used primarily in Indian and Thai dishes, you are correct. Yet it’s also an important ingredient in an American favorite: mustard, which contains a good dose of turmeric.
Turmeric is a root and can be purchased fresh in the produce section of grocery and health food stores. It also comes in a jar as a ground spice found in the spice section. Choose organic whenever possible. To substitute ground for fresh (and vice versa), use 1 teaspoon ground turmeric for 1 inch fresh turmeric root.
Add turmeric to soups, stews, rice, egg dishes, and salad dressings. Below are three great ways to get you started.