Turmeric, the main spice in curry, is an orange rhizome (root) and a cousin of ginger. Its flavour can be described as a combination between ginger, carrots and pepper.
Turmeric is one of the most researched herbs in history. On the National Centre for Biotechnolgy Information website there are over 3472 extracts from over 3000 clinical trials and over 8500 extracts on Curcumin (the main chemical in turmeric).
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Asia, due to its natural healing properties. The medicinal uses of turmeric curcumin are plentiful.
It is used in a number of ways such as to heal inflammation of the joints and in some cases to help minimise digestive problems. It is currently being tested to see if it can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease, prevent and treat various cancers, and so much more.
In some countries like India, turmeric is used as a condiment. It adds a warm, mild aroma and nice colour to foods. It can be used as a substitute for saffron as well.
Finally, Turmeric is also used in the perfume industry.
1 - How should I take turmeric?
Adding it to meals is the most enjoyable way to consume turmeric powder. You can mix it with other ingredients to prepare curries, snacks, and many other recipes (check our blog 7 ways to add turmeric to your diet)
When adding turmeric to your diet, do ensure you take black pepper alongside to aid its absorption.
You can use it for beautiful, glowing skin as well. Stress, pollution, and a poor diet, can affect the skin in a negative way. People usually end up using heavy makeup, or doing cosmetic procedures to hide/remove spots and skin marks.
However, beauty starts from within, and more and more studies are finding links between certain nutrients and wrinkle prevention, skin radiance, and acne treatment.
Curcumin, the main chemical in turmeric, is a must-have ingredient in a natural skin care regime. It can be used both internally and topically. The best way to use turmeric for skin problems is making a face mask. Check out our blog “5 amazing foods for healthy skin” to learn more.
2 - Does heating destroy turmeric’s benefits?
There is a general debate on this issue. People always ask whether it’s best to consume turmeric powder raw or cooked.
Turmeric has been used as a spice in India for thousands of years for cooking their famous curries. These dishes require heating the spice along with other ingredients.
The fact is that we all know that some vitamins are lost from certain fruits and vegetables during the cooking process. However, many nutrients can also be increased in the process.
As with all foods, when turmeric is heated, changes occur in its nutritional value. Studies suggest it is not stable at high temperatures.
However, this doesn’t mean that there is a huge loss in the amount of medicinal and antioxidant properties in turmeric. Heating for a short span of time would not have that effect.
In fact another study showed that antioxidant power of turmeric increases with boiling and roasting in comparison to raw turmeric.
3 - What are turmeric’s side effects?
Turmeric provides many health benefits when taken regularly and is considered extremely safe. However, as with all foods, side effects may occur when consumed in excess. These are generally not serious, yet prolonged use of high supplement dosages can cause more severe issues.
Some of the possible ones are heartburn, headache, stomach ulcers, and excess bile production that is unsafe for those with gallstones.
Turmeric has blood thinning properties, beneficial for those with heart conditions, but may not help those having a problem of excess bleeding due to poor blood clotting.
Certain conditions such as low blood sugar levels may be worsened by turmeric.
It may also interact with medications that you may have been prescribed for other health conditions. Stop taking turmeric before a surgery or during pregnancy.
4 - What is the difference between Turmeric and Curcumin?
This is a very common question. Turmeric is a root which contains curcumin. Curcumin is an active ingredient within turmeric and responsible for most of the health benefits associated with it.
Curcumin is one among the three curcuminoids found in turmeric. Curcuminoids is the name given to the active compounds in turmeric. Of the curcuminoids, the primary compound is precisely the curcumin. The other two are demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
There is around 3-4% curcumin in turmeric. This percentage varies based on the species, the crop, the area and the processing.
Being an excellent anti inflammatory agent, curcumin is considered as a safe alternative to commercial painkillers. It can be used in managing inflammatory conditions, asthma, colitis, arthritis, etc. As a powerful antioxidant, Curcumin supports healthy cholesterol levels, thereby supports various health ailments.
Don’t focus on finding turmeric with the highest percentage of curcumin. Focus on buying a good quality organic certified product instead. Turmeric powder in your diet absorbs better than turmeric tablets.
5 - Can I take turmeric if I have diabetes?
Diabetes is a common disease related to disruptions in your blood sugar level. Your blood sugar level is crucial for how your body metabolises food and how it uses energy. Diabetes develop when your body can’t properly produce or use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
One study suggests that turmeric can decrease the level of glucose in blood and help with preventing diabetes. It concludes that turmeric extract could help stabilise blood sugar levels and make diabetes more manageable.
However, keep in mind that because turmeric can help with decrease blood glucose levels, it should be avoided with diabetic medications which treat hyperglycemia, as together they can lower glucose levels drastically.
If you use turmeric, be sure to read the label on the package and follow the instructions carefully. If you’re unsure of the dosage, speak with your doctor.
Remember that although turmeric can be taken as a supplement to complement your regular diet, it isn’t a substitute for your current healthcare plan. As with other supplements, it’s also wise to start with a low dosage and gauge how you’re doing. You can build up from there. For a high quality Organic Certified Turmeric Powder try Superfood World Turmeric.