In a world hungry for superfoods, the spice turmeric might seem an unlikely hero.
Sure, it can turn a curry yellow in the blink of an eye. It has even turned some latte-drinkers off coffee altogether.
But turmeric’s real superpower is not its vibrant colour, or its subtle flavour – but its unique combination of medicinal properties, known throughout Asia for thousands of years.
Turmeric contains the active compound curcumin. And now Western science is catching on to curcumin’s potential as anatural anti-inflammatoryand anti-oxidant.
This reflects turmeric’s revered status in the Ayurvedic medical tradition, which has long understood its uses to promote health and vitality.
So what is turmeric?
The turmeric plant is a member of the ginger family. And like ginger, its root is where the magic happens.
Turmeric originated in tropical South-East Asia. From there it made its way to Oceania, Madagascar and – most famously – India.
In India, haldi (the Hindi word for turmeric) is a staple ingredient of curries, and some sweets. It is also used as a fabric dye. The Haldi ceremony is a ritual holy bath, often performed on the morning of a wedding, in which both bride and groom are covered in a bright yellow paste of turmeric, oil and water.
Turmeric and your health
The West is finally catching onto the medicinal properties of turmeric. And the evidence is beginning to stack up.
Turmeric’s active compound circumin seems to have a wide variety of health benefits. One of the most exciting is as an anti-inflammatory. This may be particularly beneficial for the people who suffer from arthritis.
Cooking with turmeric
This vibrant, delicious spice is a delight to cook with – so adding more turmeric to your diet is an easy way to start.
If you love a hot drink, try making your own turmeric latte at home. Just don’t forget the pinch of black pepper! Pepper’s active compound piperine has been shown to increase curcumin absorption by up to 2000%.
Of course, there are also countless curry recipes to explore. Try matching the subtle flavour of turmeric with a delicate white fish for a delicious main.