Considered a staple food in South Asian cuisine and an integral part of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, turmeric finally gets the attention it deserves in the West. This powerful little spice goes beyond adding flavor to curries and gives yellow mustard its bright color. It is also full of healing properties thanks to curcumin, its active ingredient. This beneficial compound turns turmeric into a nutritional potency, helping in everything from reducing the risk of heart disease to keeping our brains sharp. Take a look at these five reasons to add turmeric to your diet.
1. Turmeric reduces inflammation naturally
There is a reason why alternative therapies have long been turned into turmeric. It is a natural way to reduce inflammation in the body. Because inflammation is the underlying cause of chronic diseases, this means that turmeric can help protect us from diseases ranging from diabetes to autoimmune diseases. Research has shown that nature knows what it does, that turmeric is more effective than many over-the-counter medications to fight inflammation, including aspirin and ibuprofen.
2. Turmeric keeps Alzheimer's disease in the bay
It has also been shown that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric stimulate cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's disease. This is because curcumin in turmeric is able to break the plaques that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, which improves overall memory. And in Alzheimer's patients who experience irritability, agitation and anxiety, taking turmeric regularly relieves symptoms and increases quality of life.
3. Turmeric protects against heart disease
Turmeric works quietly behind the scenes to prevent the accumulation of "bad" cholesterol, protecting the body against the buildup of plaque, also known as atherosclerosis, which can block arteries and eventually cause a heart attack or stroke. In addition, curcumin has been found to reduce the risk of heart failure and may prevent abnormal heart rhythms. Talk about a heart-healthy addition to the table!
4. Turmeric could prevent cancer
Although more research is needed, the ability of turmeric to prevent or treat cancer is quite promising. A small study of people with precancerous changes in their body found that curcumin seemed to prevent the development of cancer. And in rats exposed to substances that cause cancer, those treated with turmeric were protected from cancers of the colon, skin and stomach.
5. Turmeric could stop diabetes in its tracks
Turmeric could also be the answer to prevent the development of diabetes. A randomized, placebo-controlled study among pre-diabetics gave the participants the curcumin extract or a placebo for nine months. At the end of the study, none of the people who received curcumin developed type 2 diabetes, although 16 percent of the placebo group did. It has also been shown to improve metabolic function and reduce plaque buildup in people with type 2 diabetes, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is clear that turmeric is excellent for our bodies. But what are the best ways to enjoy the benefits of the spice? Turmeric is commonly sold as a powder in the hall of spices or as a root, which can be grated like ginger. Try adding it to your morning eggs or spicing roasted vegetables with it. Turmeric is especially tasty with cauliflower, green beans and potatoes. Sprinkle it over soups or use fresh turmeric in green juices or teas. I enjoy mixing raw turmeric in salad dressings, although I also take it as a daily supplement to ensure that I receive my daily dose!
If you are looking for a totally natural way to add a healing touch to your diet, turmeric is an excellent option.
What are your favorite ways to use turmeric?
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