10 Things About Turmeric You Did Not Know

About Turmeric

Turmeric tastes warm, peppery and bitter and has a mild smell which reminds one of ginger and orange. It is known for its use to flavour and colour foodstuff, and is a principal ingredient in curry powder. Apart from its culinary usage, turmeric has also been used since ancient times in the Indian system of medicine as a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. Also it has been used throughout history as a textile dye, which is why turmeric was also known as ‘Indian saffron’, a name given for its deep yellow orange colour.

Turmeric, a household condiment in the Indian subcontinent, is also known for its many medicinal properties which is now being corroborated by modern scientific research. The following is a list of health benefits that one can derive from the consumption of turmeric.

  • Anti-inflammatory: Turmeric is being used traditionally in India as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions that include flatulence, jaundice, menstrual problems, blood in urine, toothache, bruises, chest pain, etc. It also acts as an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Effective for Rheumatoid Arthritis: It has been clinically substantiated that curcumin, which is the chief pharmacological element in turmeric, is an effective medicine for rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin acts as an antioxidant and neutralises free radicals (chemicals that cause damage to healthy cells.)
  • Helps Cystic Fibrosis patients: A recent study published in the Science (April 2004 issue) reveals that curcumin, which is the chief constituent of turmeric can rectify the most common expression of a genetic defect that causes cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that affects the lungs with the formation of thick mucus, leading to life-threatening infections.
  • Prevents Colon Cancer: A research published in the August 2006 issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology revealed that curcumin, a phytonutrient found in turmeric and quercitin, an antioxidant in onions, together can reduce the size and number of precancerous lesions in human intestinal tract.
  • Prevents Prostate Cancer: Scientists attribute the rare occurrence of prostate cancer among Indians (which has a high incidence among Americans) to the consumption of diet rich in brassica family of vegetables and the condiment used for preparing curry, viz., turmeric. Turmeric which is a source of the phytonutrient curcumin along with cruciferous vegetables that include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. which contain in abundance a phytochemical called phenethyl isothiocyanates, has the potential to retard the growth of cancer cells in human prostate.
  • Reduces risk of Childhood Leukaemia: In a recent conference held in London, a research provided evidence that diet containing turmeric as a spicy ingredient can reduce the risk of developing childhood leukaemia.
  • Improves Liver Function: The result of a recent scientific research revealed that turmeric can increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties and greatly improve liver function.
  • Protects against Cardiovascular Disease: Turmeric contains curcumin can reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and prevent heart attack or stroke by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol which causes damages in blood vessels and builds plaques that leads to heart failure.
  • Rich in Vitamin B6: Turmeric is also rich in vitamin B6 which is required to keep homocysteine levels in check. Homocysteine, as is known, causes great damage to blood vessels and high levels of homocysteine is considered a risk for cardiovascular diseases.
  • Protects against Alzheimer’s disease: Recent studies suggest that curcumin, the biologically active constituent in turmeric, protects against Alzheimer’s disease by activating a gene that is responsible for coding the production of antioxidant proteins.