Is Turmeric Good for You?
Turmeric is a spice that may be one of the most effective nutritional supplements available. You may be familiar with this spice as it is popular for its yellow color. This golden, yellow-colored spice has a lot more to offer than beautiful hues. Turmeric has been proven to provide a number of benefits for the body and the brain. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which is behind many of the health benefits.
What is Turmeric?
The spice turmeric is taken from the root portion of a flowering plant. The tall plant grows mostly in Central America and Asia. It’s often called the golden spice or Indian saffron. Turmeric isn’t new to the health interest crowd; it’s been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in India. Recently, research has been able to back up many of the health-related claims about it. The compounds in turmeric are called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most notable one. Curcumin is the main active ingredient. It is a strong antioxidant and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. These just scratch the surface when it comes to turmeric being good for you.
Top 5 Ways Turmeric is Good for You
Turmeric has tons of health benefits, and it is well worth making the spice part of your regular diet or taking it as a supplement. There are many ways it may be beneficial from helping manage diabetes, heart disease, fighting free radicals, reducing pain, and improving memory. But let’s take a look at the top five ways turmeric may be good for you.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effect - Curcumin contains natural anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is believed to be connected to many serious health conditions including arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer. Turmeric may be beneficial for helping control damaging inflammation which can prevent or lessen the effect of many chronic conditions.
- Helping Prevent Cancer – The disease cancer is caused by uncontrolled cell growth. As an herb, curcumin, present in turmeric, may affect the development and growth of cancer. Turmeric may reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, reduce the spread of cancer, or contribute to the death of cancerous cells.
- Help Delay Aging and Age-Related Diseases – Since turmeric may play a role to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, it may help increase longevity. It may be one of the most effective anti-aging supplements since it helps prevent or reduce oxidation and inflammation which are often linked to age-related chronic conditions.
- Improve Cognitive Function – Another compound found in turmeric is turmerone. It’s believed that this ingredient may be beneficial for supporting brain function. Because it helps with cell repair, it can potentially be helpful for treating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.
- Help Fight Depression – In clinical trials, turmeric helped to reduce major depression. Some studies have suggested that it has also helped relieve anxiety. Curcumin seems to help with mood disorders by increasing a specific protein that keeps neuronal cells healthy. The BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is stimulated by polyphenols like curcumin, which is a major component of turmeric. BDNF is helpful for helping regenerate neurons, which may help improve mood and reduce depression.
Nutritional Value of Turmeric
One tablespoon of ground turmeric contains approximately:
- 29 calories
- 9 grams protein
- 4 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram fiber
- 3 grams fat
- 196 micrograms potassium
- 7 milligrams iron
It’s safe to consume up to 8 grams of turmeric per day. Most medical professionals recommend taking 500 mg twice a day. That is equal to a daily therapeutic dose which is about 2.5 teaspoons which can be difficult to get just by diet alone. It needs to be taken with food to prevent stomach upset. Finding the right dosage to reap the most benefit will depend on your overall health. To obtain optimal absorption, take turmeric supplements with “good” heart-healthy fats like avocado, seeds, nuts, and oils.
Ways to Use Turmeric
Turmeric can be used as a spice or taken as a supplement. Curcumin is extracted from turmeric and is a potent supplement. When you purchase turmeric at the grocery store and use it as a spice, it does provide some antioxidant properties. As a spice, it may not provide as significant as an impact on your health, but it is a great way to season foods without using salt. There are lots of ways to use turmeric in the kitchen. Just remember that it doesn’t provide a huge health boost since you’ll be using small amounts. You can get some benefit by adding it to:
- Scrambled eggs
- Rice/rice dishes
- Golden milk
Curry sauce contains turmeric and offers a potent, bitter, earthy and a bit pungent flavor to a variety of dishes. Most grocery stores carry ground turmeric, curry powder, or fresh turmeric root. Using turmeric for cooking will provide some of the health benefits. But taking turmeric as a supplement will provide a wider range of health benefits.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
If you are using turmeric as a spice, it’s very unlikely that you will consume too much. Using it as a culinary spice may be the best way to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits. Taking too high of a dosage, over 1500 milligrams a day, can potentially cause some negative side effects. These may include:
- Slow blood-clotting which can cause problems after surgical procedures or if you suffer a major injury. People who take prescription blood thinners should not take high doses of turmeric.
- Iron deficiency is possible since higher dosages may interfere with iron metabolism.
- Low blood sugar may occur if high amounts of turmeric are taken along with diabetes medications.
- An increased risk of developing kidney stones may occur for those who are prone to them.
- Taking too much turmeric may cause diarrhea, nausea, or other gastrointestinal distress.
Taking Supplemental Turmeric
Taking turmeric supplements can provide many health benefits. It’s been used in Ayurvedic practices for centuries because of its medicinal value. Since it’s not likely you can use enough simply by cooking with it, a supplement is often recommended by health care professionals.