Not only is it an important spice in many foods and cuisines, but the health benefits of turmeric are quite numerous.
Turmeric, also known as the golden spice or Indian saffron, is a universal spice and a major ingredient in curry. It has been extensively studied and proven to offer massive health benefits.
The turmeric powder in your kitchen cabinet is made from the ground roots of the turmeric plant or Curcuma longa.
Turmeric is rich in medicinal compounds called curcuminoids, with the major and most important one being curcumin.
It’s curcumin that gives turmeric its yellow color, the warm and bitter taste, and has made it a potent addition to different products, both homemade and commercially.
Turmeric can be used in different forms, including whole turmeric root, powder, extract, pills and capsules, turmeric blends, or golden milk.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy your turmeric, you still stand to benefit from its wide range of benefits.
But what does turmeric offer and how can you benefit from it?
According to Nutrition Data, a tablespoon (7grams) of ground turmeric contains approximately:
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Calories: 9
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.7 grams
- Manganese: 0.5 milligram, or 26 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 8 milligrams, or 16 percent of your daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 1 milligram, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 170 milligrams, or 5 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 7 milligrams, or 3 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 13 milligrams, or 3 percent of the daily requirement
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has been prescribed in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine as a holistic treatment of different conditions, all for a good reason.
Here are proven benefits of turmeric in health:
1. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory
Acute inflammation is a natural response of the body against any attack.
While it’s essential to help the body fight intruders, chronic inflammation can be harmful and is the primary cause of most chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that can help reduce inflammatory responses in the body and lower your risk of developing these conditions.
2. It may lower your risk of heart disease
Heart disease is a collection of different conditions and diseases affecting the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and almost half of Americans are at risk.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Since inflammation is a great contributor to the development of heart disease, preventing it will be a big step towards decreasing the risk.
Curcumin may also help regulate the endothelial lining of the heart.
The endothelium is the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels. Endothelial cells release enzymes that control immune functions, platelets, and blood clotting.
It also produces substances that control the relaxation and contraction of vessels, thus regulating healthy blood pressure.
A damaged endothelium will interfere with normal functions of the heart and blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.
Luckily, curcumin has been shown to improve endothelial function, thus improving heart health.
3. Curcumin may help prevent cancer
Curcumin has been studied extensively on the subject of cancer, and it has been found effective in certain types such as breast, stomach, skin, and bowel cancers.
Curcumin has been shown to specifically kill cancer cells, reduce their growth, and inhibit the development of new vessels in tumors.
Curcumin may also prevent cancer from developing, especially colon cancer.
4. May help in the management of diabetes
According to research, curcumin could improve most issues associated with diabetes, such as insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, cell death, and necrosis.
It may also help prevent diabetes-associated complications.
5. It may improve skin health
The anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties of turmeric may effectively treat different skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
This may help enhance a natural glow, heal wounds, and reduce acne scarring.
6. It could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
A study was done on Alzheimer’s patients that exhibited severe behavioral, cognitive decline, and psychological symptoms of dementia such as agitation, irritability, apathy, and anxiety.
In the study, the patients were prescribed turmeric capsules for 12 weeks.
Their symptoms decreased remarkably without any side effects, and by the end of the study period, there was a reduced burden on the caregivers.
These patients were able to recognize their families within one year of turmeric intake, and had no re-exacerbation of symptoms with continued curcumin treatment.
7. May help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition characterized by chronic inflammation that affects different joints, including the feet and hands.
It also affects joint linings causing painful swelling. Over time bone erosion and joint deformity may occur.
In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis may attack internal organs such as the heart and lungs.
Curcumin has been shown to block specific cytokines and enzymes involved in inflammation.
This may help combat rheumatoid arthritis-induced inflammation and improve symptoms.
A study conducted on 36 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis found that after 90 days of treatment, those who took curcumin formulation experienced reduced inflammation and pain compared to the placebo group.
8. Curcumin may offer benefits against depression
Research has shown a strong connection between chronic inflammation and depression.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicles that cause inflammation and may help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Also, depression is associated with low BDNF. BDNF is a protein found in the spinal cord and brain that helps keep your neurons healthy.
Some neurons play a role in producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and pain.
Low levels of serotonin may result in depression, anxiety, and sleeping difficulties, especially in people that have had depression before.
Final thoughts on the health benefits of turmeric:
Turmeric is a powerful spice that has been used traditionally for its medicinal properties.
In modern days, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has undergone different studies and has proven to help improve health in various ways, including
improved heart health, reduced inflammation, improved diabetes, reduced cancer risk, improved skin, depression prevention, and enhanced heart health.
Whether you prefer whole turmeric root, powder, or oil, turmeric is an excellent addition to your diet.
You may take a step further and consume it as a supplement in capsules.