Of all the spices you might see in stores ranging from a health food shop to a supermarket, turmeric is perhaps the most visible.
Thanks to its bright orange colour, it stands out among the greens of coriander and parsley, dill and oregano. That alone can make it a popular item to cook with as it adds a yellow-amber hue to rice and white meat, especially when infused in stews, while its mild flavour won’t overwhelm the dish.
However, turmeric is not just popular for these reasons. It is believed to have various properties, but some of these can be exaggerated and others understated, which means it makes sense to learn just what is and is not true about turmeric – and why as a stockist of the best organic spices in the UK, we are happy to be offering it.
Firstly, turmeric has been highlighted as having properties that help fight cancer. Inevitably in an age of misinformation, this is exaggerated. So no, consuming turmeric is not a magic cure for cancer, especially not in its advanced stages.
However, it does have some benefits in this area. It contains a substance called curcumin that has been shown by research to help inhibit the progression of cancer by impeding the transformation of normal cells into cancerous ones. This same characteristic may also reduce the chances of those at high risk of cancer from contracting it.
The extent of these benefits is not entirely established and more research will be needed, but the available evidence is that it does bring some help to those at risk of cancer or actually suffering from it. However, it is worth talking to your doctor before adding it to food, as large doses can actually hamper some cancer drugs.
Turmeric has many other properties, however, which can help with a wide range of conditions. Once again, it is curcumin that is responsible for these.
It is, for example, an anti-inflammatory, making it useful for muscle and joint pain sufferers. Also, it contains antioxidants, which helps remove unpleasant free radicals from the system and helps keep down cholesterol levels, helping boost cardiovascular health.
Another attribute is in enhanced digestion, with turmeric able to help reduce gas and bloating, with some advocating it as a means of calming bowel problems like Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
However, alongside this it is important not to add too much turmeric to your food, as excess amounts can lead to stomach upsets.
The spice is also believed to have some effects in curbing cognitive decline, although this is also the subject of ongoing research.
Put together, it will come as no surprise that turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. This is a theory of medicine that holds that everything must be in balance and that this spice is very effective in doing just that, getting the body’s systems back on track to help maintain normal function.
Used in curries and vegetable dishes wherever it is available, turmeric is clearly a health booster as well as providing both greater flavour and colour to food.