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Turmeric

by Fiona Breslin on February 6, 2017

A Specialist in the Spice Rack

By Fiona Breslin

Turmeric is a bright orange-yellow spice made from the dried rhizome of turmeric plant. It has been used for millennia in Middle Eastern and South Asian cooking. It’s also used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, where its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties are favored for aiding digestion, and bladder, kidney, and liver function. Today, turmeric is attracting the attention of cancer researchers for its possible anti-cancer properties.
The American Cancer Society reports that turmeric is the major source of the plant compound curcumin. In animal and laboratory studies, curcumin has been shown to potentially slow the growth of and even to kill cancer cells. However, these effects have not yet been proven in human studies.

One teaspoon of turmeric contains traces of other healthy nutrients and minerals that promote blood, bone, and nerve health, such as folate, iron, and manganese.

Although turmeric now comes in pill form, the full benefit of its cancer-fighting properties come to the fore when it’s cooked. There have also been cases of illness due to turmeric-containing supplements, hence ‘food first’ is always the safest way to proceed.

You can add a little turmeric to your marinades, soups, stir-fries and curries, in fact it’s distinctive taste is the base of many curry powders. Although it is not a ‘spicy’ spice, because of its potency, go easy with it when cooking. Because turmeric has poor bio-availability, its important to try to combine it with other ingredients which will help you to get its full health benefits. Combining black pepper with turmeric is one way to help your body absorb the turmeric. Mixing turmeric with fats such as olive oil is another way to help improve the absorption of turmeric in the body.

Ann’s Tips

All ground spices, turmeric included, have a limited shelf life, after which they lose volatile oils, and with them flavor and nutritional value. It’s best to replace them every six months or so. Be careful when handling turmeric. One of its traditional uses is as a cloth dye, so it can leave permanent stains if it gets on your clothes.

Recipe Tips

Try roasting cauliflower with turmeric and coconut oil for Cook for your Life’s simple and easy, Spicy Oven Roasted Cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower will add extra cancer fighting value to your meal. Turmeric can also be used as the main seasoning ingredient in warming winter recipes such as Cook For Your Life’s Moroccan Style Chickpea and Chard Stew.

Sources:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/can-turmeric-prevent-bowel-cancer

https://teladietitian.com/blog/the-bioavailability-of-turmeric

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