Health Benefits of Cooking with Turmeric

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Discover what you need to know about using this anti-inflammatory healing spice including the health benefits of turmeric and how you can use it in just about any recipe you already love from soups to dips, side dishes to entrees, beverages to smoothies and everything in between.

The Health Benefits of Turmeric + How to Use It by Emily Kyle Nutrition

Turmeric, The Healing Spice

Turmeric is an ancient spice that has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for thousands of years.

Thriving in tropical areas, the Curcuma longa the botanical name for the turmeric plant, has been most widely produced in India and is making its way into mainstream grocery stores in America.

If you have never heard of it before, turmeric is a spice from the rhizome of the turmeric plant, typically ground into a powder form. With the rise in popularity of turmeric in recent years, you can now easily purchase it in any grocery store in the spice section.

Turmeric is a super spice that can help to reduce inflammation in the body and support a healthy holistic lifestyle.

An Overview of The Powerful Spice Turmeric

Turmeric is a rhizome with powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. These powerful properties stem from the important plant compound called Curcumin which is found in turmeric.

Many studies have researched the anti-inflammatory effects of Curcumin, including important in-vivo human studies, which have “found some evidence of anti-inflammatory activity of Curcumin” (1).

Inflammation is at the heart of many chronic conditions, and evidence suggests that adding more anti-inflammatory foods to the diet, such as turmeric, can help to reduce the instance of chronic disease.  

An Overview of What Turmeric Is

You may have been tempted to visit the spice aisle and stock up on this trendy spice, but then again, what could you do with it?

Or, have you thought about what turmeric could actually do for you?

Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is part of the ginger family and can be purchased in different forms such as a whole fresh root, ground powder or even an extract.

What Makes Turmeric So Powerful?

Turmeric is such a powerful spice because it contains the polyphenol, curcumin, which is known for having remarkable “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, wound healing and chemopreventative properties” (2).

I prefer to enjoy turmeric in savory recipes because it is easy to incorporate ground black pepper as well.

Black pepper contains a powerful component called piperine which has been shown to help increase the bioavailability of Curcumin by 2,000%. (2)

Turmeric May Help to Reduce Inflammation

Surprisingly, inflammation is not always a bad thing.

Short-term, inflammation helps to combat foreign invaders in the body and repairs damage to cells and tissues. The problem with inflammation begins when it becomes chronic and it starts attacking your own healthy body tissues, even if they are not currently damaged.

Curcumin offsets inflammation by deactivating NF-kB, a molecule that activates genes linked to inflammation.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric that possessess strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce unwanted inflammation in the body.

Turmeric is a Powerful Antioxidant

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. It is believed to be linked to many diseases today.

As a result, incorporating antioxidants into the diet is extremely important. They are praised for their ability to neutralize free radicals.

And…you guessed it, Curcumin- a strong antioxidant- does just that!

Turmeric May Help to Improve Brain Function

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a growth hormone that plays a role in increasing the number of neurons in certain parts of the brain. This helps enhance brain function.

Decreased levels of BDNF have been linked to many common brain disorders.

Interestingly, studies have suggested that curcumin, the polyphenol heavily present in turmeric, can increase levels of BDNF. However, it is important to note that research is still evolving in this area.

Additional Research on Turmeric Is Needed

Studies have also revealed that curcumin may lower the risk for heart disease and help in the prevention and possibly treatment of cancer.

Again, there is still ongoing research so there aren’t definite answers as of now.

What You Need to Know About Using Tuermic for Wellness

One of the most sought after health benefits of consuming turmeric is the anti-inflammatory health benefits produced by the compound curcumin.

It has been widely accepted that inflammation is the catalyst to the development of many diseases we see present in Western culture today.

While more scientific evidence is needed to support the claim, some people even speculate that turmeric is so powerful that it may have the ability to not only prevent cancer but work toward treating it as well.

Ancient medicine has long understood the powerful health benefits of turmeric and the medicinal properties it provides to our bodies. Western medicine is just starting to adapt to the functional medicine mindset and starting to recognize turmeric as the powerful spice that it is.

However, I always want to caution my clients that turmeric is not a magic pill that will somehow restore bad health.

Simply adding to turmeric to an already unhealthy diet will not make it healthy.

Simply adding turmeric supplements to an unhealthy lifestyle that does not address sleep, or stress, or mental health will not create a healthy lifestyle.

But adding turmeric sensibly to your food and drinks, when you enjoy the taste, is a great way to help to combat inflammation in combination with other positive lifestyle choices.

As always, I encourage everyone to focus on consuming turmeric in its most natural state, rather than from unregulated supplements or pills.

Whole foods are always a safer choice,  but in some cases, curcumin supplements are an option for people who are working directly with a health care professional.

The Health Benefits of Turmeric + How to Use It by Emily Kyle Nutrition

How to Cook with Turmeric

Here are my favorite ways that I incorporate turmeric into my daily meals. You don’t have to start adding turmeric to everything all at once, but get a little adventurous and try something new!

You may just be pleasantly surprised!

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Recipes

Ingredients that are good for you are great, but they won't do you or your body any good if you don't know how to start using them in your own kitchen. Using a spice like this for the first time may seem a little intimidating, but don't worry, everyone always has to start somewhere.

Turmeric Breakfast Recipes

Turmeric Side Dishes

Turmeric Entree Recipes

Turmeric Drink Recipes


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