Turmeric History, Health Benefits and Uses

turmericMost people are aware of the spice Turmeric (Curcumin longa), mainly for its association with cooking, especially in Indian food. It is, in fact a plant which is a member of the ginger family, being a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant. It is a coloring agent in food and has many health benefits and uses.

The History of Turmeric

Turmeric has been one of the most staple medicines of the Indian and Chinese culture for thousands of years and is known as the Indian saffron. It has a great many uses, firstly used as a dye in India but later used for its medicinal properties. The ancient Arya people, who worshipped the sun, believed that wearing a Turmeric rhizome around their neck would ward off evil and provide protection.

Where Does Turmeric Grow?

Turmeric is to be found growing wild in the forests of South Asia where the weather conditions prove ideal, having temperatures of between 20° and 30° C degrees plus plenty of rain.

How Is Turmeric Cultivated?

Turmeric is cultivated annually for their rhizomes, which is basically the underground stem or root. These rhizomes are then boiled, dried and then ground into the deep yellow/orangy powder that we associate with the turmeric that we buy in the shops. The orange color is produced by releasing an active ingredient, curcumin, which in turn produces an orange coloured oil.

What is Turmeric Used For?

Apart from having healing properties, Turmeric is used as a colorant in cooking and particularly as a flavoring in food, mainly meats, pickles, and baked foods. Not only is it used in savoury dishes, especially curry dishes but also in some sweet dishes.

Dairy products
Ice cream
Yogurt
Orange juice
Biscuits
Cereals
Icing for cakes

Turmeric can be used in its powdered form or freshly grated or finely chopped from the rhizome. Although not a good dye, it is sometimes used to dye certain Indian clothes, eg., saris.

The Health Benefits of Turmeric

There is a great deal of research being done on Turmeric and evidence has been found of its many medicinal health benefits. Curcumin, the yellow oil, is comparable to many anti inflammatory drugs.

  • May help prevent certain cancers such as breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.
  • If added to cauliflower and / or other cruciferous vegetables it can halt prostate cancer. Men in India are at very low risk of developing prostate cancer, which is attributed to a diet rich in turmeric and cruciferous vegetables.
  • As an anti oxidant, Turmeric has been shown to give effective relief against rheumatoid arthritis by neutralizing free radicals in the body.
  • Its anti fungal and antiseptic properties can disinfect cuts and burns and can stop bleeding.
  • It may help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloid plaque build up in the brain.
  • It is a natural painkiller.
  • It can be used as a treatment for depression.
  • It has a diuretic quality which is effective against urinary tract disorders.
  • Helps prevent food poisoning by destroying fungus, bacteria and viruses found in the stomach.
  • Curcumin lowers cholesterol.

Turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form. Its always best to buy organic as many of the most potent active ingredients will be missing if you buy inorganic.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78


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Category: Natural Food

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Hi ! I’m Jaks and I am the writer for this site. To be completely healthy and fit you must keep your body moving and active and most of all eating the correct food is vital. Learn more about this site

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