Turmeric is an unassuming orange root, quietly used for years in Indian cuisine to bring that particular flavor and color that so epitomizes curry and other Eastern dishes. In recent years, however, it has risen to superstardom among health and culinary enthusiasts in the United States. So what’s so great about this golden spice, and how can you utilize it in your kitchen? Read on to find out
Its all about the curcumin
Turmeric contains a particular compound known as curcumin that is primarily responsible for its innumerable health benefits, including its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately, curcumin is not readily absorbed by the bloodstream either when taken as a supplement or when turmeric is used as a spice. Researchers have found that consuming black pepper, along with turmeric, can increase absorption rates by 2,000 percent. To help you remember to take them at the same time, mix the two spices together, with ½ teaspoon of black pepper for every ¼ cup of turmeric.
Reasons to use more turmeric
As mentioned above, curcumin can help reduce chronic inflammation. Though short-term inflammation is beneficial when healing from an injury, long term inflammation can lead to severe issues such as heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and various degenerative conditions. Curcumin has been shown to dramatically reduce inflammation in the body, making it just as effective as certain anti-inflammatory drugs.
Could help treat depression
According to one small study, curcumin may be as effective as Prozac in relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. It is thought to help boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which affect mood and emotional responses.
Lower risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world and is caused by several factors, including diet, genetics, and overall lifestyle. Along with eliminating factors that increase your risk of developing heart disease, adding turmeric to your diet could improve the function of your endothelium. Endothelial dysfunction, one of the main concerns related to heart disease, is when the lining of your blood vessels are unable to regulate blood pressure and blood clotting. Curcumin can boost endothelial function and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 65%.
Ways to eat more turmeric
Add it to eggs
Mix a pinch of turmeric into your scrambled eggs or omelet for a flavorful twist on your favorite egg dishes. Don’t forget to add some freshly ground black pepper as well!
Incorporate it into rice
Add some turmeric to rice during cooking to amp up this side dish and bring a nice color to jasmine or brown rice.
Blend it into a smoothie
Though it may not be your first instinct to add turmeric to your smoothie, it is a great way to reap the health benefits if you don’t love the taste. The other flavors mask the subtle flavor of turmeric in a green smoothie or juice. You can also juice fresh turmeric root if you find that the powder is not incorporating well.
Sprinkle on popcorn
Garlic powder, black pepper, and turmeric combined with a few tablespoon of melted butter form the ultimate popcorn seasoning mixture. Pop your corn on the stovetop with a dollop of coconut oil, and this will quickly become your new favorite snack.
Add to soup
As fall approaches and you start making soup to warm you on those chilly evenings, try adding a sprinkle of turmeric to your timeless recipes. Vegetable or chicken soup will take on a whole new life with this golden spice.
Oven-roasted vegetables with a few red pepper flakes, black pepper, and turmeric make a delicious side dish to pair with any fish or poultry. Try cauliflower, potatoes, or asparagus.
Make golden milk
Heat coconut or almond milk on the stove along with turmeric and honey for a warm drink that soothes the soul.
Note: Use caution when cooking with turmeric as it can stain clothing and cooking utensils. Rinse immediately after use.