Turmeric Benefits, Nutritional Values and Side Effects
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family; it is native to India and Southeast Asia. The part of the plant that is actually used is called the rhizome. Most often sold as a dried powder, the spice can be used in both fresh and dried forms. Only buy powdered turmeric in small quantities, as the flavor dissipates quickly after grinding.
Turmeric has a peppery, warm, and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance. It's the spice that gives Indian food its distinctive flavor. It's an important part of curry, so every time you're eating anything with a curry sauce, you're eating some turmeric.
Turmeric itself contains a bunch of compounds, but the family of compounds thought to be most responsible for turmeric's medicinal effects are the curcuminoids, which are also responsible for giving turmeric its bright yellow color. Curcumin is approved as a food additive by the World Health Organization, the European Parliament, and the United States Food and Drug Administration.
This article explores turmeric's nutritional properties, potential benefits, and side effects.
Ground Turmeric Nutrition Facts
|Vitamin||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)||0.7 mg||1%|
|Tocopherol (Vitamin E)||4.43 mg||30%|
|Vitamin K||13.4 μg||11%|
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||0.058 mg||5%|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.15 mg||12%|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||1.35 mg||8%|
|Pantothenic acid Vitamin B5)||0.542 mg||11%|
|Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)||0.107 mg||6%|
|Folate (Vitamin B9)||20 μg||5%|
|Mineral||Amount||% Daily Value|
As shown in the table, turmeric is a concentrated source of heart-healthy dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium; energy-producing iron; and free-radical-scavenging manganese.
Turmeric is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic. It contains an active compound called curcumin, which has been scientifically proven to have many health benefits. Here are some of the benefits of turmeric:
Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Protection
The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, the anti-inflammatory effects of its phytonutrient curcumin have been shown to be comparable to potent prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. Unlike the drugs, curcumin produces no toxicity.
Promotes Joint Health
Clinical studies have substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in the shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.
Curcumin's antioxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA—a significant benefit, particularly in the colon, where cell turnover is quite rapid, occurring approximately every three days. Because of their frequent replication, mutations in the DNA of colon cells can result in the formation of cancerous cells much more quickly. Curcumin also helps the body destroy mutated cancer cells, so they cannot spread through the body and cause more harm. A primary way in which curcumin does so is by enhancing liver function.
Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a very good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep homocysteine levels from getting too high. Homocysteine, an intermediate product of an important cellular process called methylation, is directly damaging to blood vessel walls. High levels of homocysteine are considered a significant risk factor for blood vessel damage, atherosclerotic plaque build-up, and heart disease, while a high intake of vitamin B6 is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Improved Liver Function
This ability to fight inflammation and also to serve as an antioxidant makes curcumin a very liver-friendly food. When researchers set up a study to analyze how curcumin works, they found that it inhibits free radical damage to fats (such as those found in cell membranes and cholesterol), prevents the formation of the inflammatory chemical cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes. It can lower elevated liver enzymes.
Turmeric Side Effects
Turmeric is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain goitrogens, oxalates, or purines. generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderation. Here are some potential side effects when consuming large amounts or using turmeric supplements.
- Upset stomach: Turmeric can cause stomach upset in some people. It may lead to indigestion, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Interactions with medications: Turmeric may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, diabetes medications, and drugs that reduce stomach acid.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: While turmeric is generally considered safe in small amounts used in cooking, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their healthcare providers before taking turmeric supplements.
How to Store Turmeric
- Turmeric powder should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry place.
- You can occasionally find fresh turmeric rhizome in the refrigerated section of your local market. Wrap fresh turmeric rhizome in paper towels and store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator's crisper for up to 2 weeks. For longer freshness, slice, chop, or mince and store in the freezer.
How to Prepare Turmeric
If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make your own fresh turmeric powder by boiling, drying, and then grinding it into a fine consistency. Fresh rhizomes should be boiled for one hour, then peeled and sliced into smaller sections, and dried in the sun for 15 days. For quicker drying, slice the rhizome into thin coins. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake on your oven's lowest temperature setting, 130° to 150°F. Keep the oven door open to ensure the lowest amount of heat.
Note: Be careful when using turmeric or curry powder, as they can easily stain things, including clothes and counter surfaces. To avoid a lasting stain, quickly wash any area with which it has made contact with soap and water. To prevent staining your hands, you might consider wearing kitchen gloves while handling turmeric.
Tips for Serving Turmeric
Turmeric is an essential spice in curries and stews, where it's paired with virtually any kind of meat as well as classic Indian flavors like cumin, coriander seeds, and ginger.
- Turmeric or curry powder are great spices to complement the taste of lentils and cauliflower.
- Give salad dressings extra nutritional value and an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them.
- Although turmeric is generally a staple ingredient in curry powder, some people like to add a little extra of this spice when preparing curries.
- Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews, and season with turmeric or curry powder.
- Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color and extra nutrition.