Turmeric Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts
While this golden spice has been used for centuries in both Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, you’ve likely seen turmeric gain popularity over the past few years. Turmeric is not only rich in flavour, but there is mounting evidence to support that the spice may exert many preventive health benefits, particularly through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.
My personal favourite way to enjoy turmeric is in a warming golden milk latte. I got hooked on these during grad school, but lately I’ve been making them at home by simply mixing a scoop of Botanica’s Turmeric Golden Mylk Powder into a hot cup of warm coconut milk. It’s the perfect evening ritual to wind down at the end of a long day.
Curious to learn more about turmeric’s health benefits and the ways in which you can include it in your diet? Today I’ll be breaking down where the turmeric research stands in partnership with one of my favourite supplement companies, Botanica Health.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a warming spice derived from the Curcuma longa plant. Its bright yellow colour comes from fat-soluble pigments called “curcuminoids.” The main curcuminoid is called “curcumin,” and it’s considered to be the most active component of turmeric (i.e. what provides turmeric’s health benefits). A large number of preclinical studies (studies done in animals) have shown that curcumin exerts powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and neuroprotective properties.
Turmeric May Reduce Pain & Inflammation
Animal studies have shown that curcumin plays a role in our body’s inflammatory response through its ability to inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways (the pathways that lead to inflammation). Thus, turmeric may play a role in managing or preventing pain associated with inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis.
There have been a few, small human studies that have shown that curcumin supplementation may be comparable to traditional pain medication (e.g. NSAIDs) and more effective than placebo in managing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including tenderness, joint pain, swelling, and morning stiffness. Moreover, studies have also shown that oral curcumin supplementation may help ulcerative colitis patients remain in remission and reduce inflammatory bowel disease severity compared to placebo.
Turmeric Has Antioxidant Properties
The active component of turmeric, curcumin, has also been shown to have powerful antioxidant effects, helping to scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative cell damage. Oxidative stress damages cell membranes, alters DNA, and is a key contributor to the inflammatory response and aging.
Turmeric & Chronic Disease Prevention
Because many of today’s diseases are a result of chronic inflammation and cell damage, turmeric may also play a role in helping to manage diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. While current evidence is limited, there are several clinical trials underway to assess whether curcumin can be used in treatment for patients with a wide number of these chronic diseases. Thus, turmeric’s health benefits may extend beyond what we know today. With these ongoing clinical trials, we can hope to gain a deeper understanding of turmeric’s role in treating chronic diseases in the future!
Because of turmeric’s health benefits, you may be interested in adding it to your diet or supplement routine. It’s important to note that curcumin has a very poor bioavailability, meaning that it’s not well absorbed into the human body. Fortunately, there are ways to increase the absorption of curcumin. One, because it’s a fat-soluble compound, ensure that you are pairing turmeric with a source of fat. Two, a compound in black pepper called piperine also helps to increase curcumin’s bioavailability, which is why you will likely find black pepper as an ingredient in many turmeric products.
Supplementation with curcumin is generally regarded as safe; however, if you are on any drugs or medications, be sure to check with your doctor or dietitian before taking turmeric supplements (although the amount used in cooking is generally okay). If taken together, curcumin supplements can change the efficacy (meaning cause them to not work) or increase the toxicity of a number of drugs, such as blood thinners and chemotherapy agents.
How To Include Turmeric In Your Diet
While there is no clear recommendation for turmeric dosage, incorporating turmeric into your life may help to fight inflammation or to prevent/manage chronic conditions and pain.
Turmeric provides a warming, earthy flavour to foods as well as a vibrant yellow colour. Try experimenting with turmeric in your everyday cooking to reap some of its health benefits! Personally, I love adding turmeric to cooked quinoa, in a stir-fry or fried rice, or in a tofu scramble. As mentioned, I’ve also been loving Botanica Health’s Golden Mylk mix. It’s combined with delicious ingredients like coconut, dates, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and black pepper, and it’s the perfect way to wind down in the evening.
If you prefer colder beverages, Botanica’s Perfect Protein Elevated Anti-Inflammatory Protein Powder is an awesome addition to your morning smoothies. It contains 20 grams of plant protein (brown rice and quinoa) as well as turmeric, ginger, moringa, and black pepper. I personally think it tastes great blended with frozen mangos and coconut! While Botanica’s products do contain black pepper, be sure to add it to your own dishes when cooking, as well as a source of fat to help your body absorb it! Some good sources of fat that pair well with turmeric are coconut oil, coconut milk, full fat greek yogurt, seeds, etc.
Turmeric Supplement Options
If you’re struggling with chronic pain or inflammation, turmeric, or curcumin, can also be taken in supplement form for a more concentrated dose. Botanica offers turmeric supplements in either a liquid capsule or liquid dropper form, depending on your personal preference. Alternatively, they have an Anti-Inflammatory Shot, which is a mix of ginger and turmeric and can be added to your favourite beverage or taken as is. Do note that, while supplements can be helpful as an addition to a healthy diet, they do not replace one! If your diet is unbalanced, no supplement (not even turmeric) is going to make up for it.
With so many options to add this warming, anti-inflammatory spice to your diet, I’m curious – do you guys add turmeric to your cooking? Take it as a supplement? I’d love to hear your experiences and/or favourite uses + recipes! Let me know in the comments below 🙂
Thank you so much to Botanica for sponsoring this post. As always, all words, thoughts, and opinions are my own.
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