You may already be acquainted. It’s bright yellow, kinda spicy and no one is really sure what to do with it. Turmeric – usually dried and powdered but you can buy it fresh, in which case it looks like ugly little witches fingers.
I remember seeing this mild spice in my mum’s cupboard collection growing up, but it is only recently that the numerous health (and beauty) benefits of turmeric have stolen the wellness the spotlight.
One of over 200 compounds in turmeric, that scientists are particularly interested in is Curcumin.
So what has the research found?
A study in 2009 in Ireland found that curcumin killed off cancer cells in the laboratory. The researchers found that curcumin started to destroy the cells cancer within 24 hours and the cells also began to digest themselves. Score.
- Liver damage
Researchers in Austria and the US in 2010 suggested that curcumin may help delay the onset of cirrhosis. They say their work builds on previous research which has indicated that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which may be helpful in combating lots of diseases.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
An Indian study in 2008 suggested that curcumin can block the formation of the beta-amyloid plaques that get in the way of brain function of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Tendonitis and arthritis
Researchers in Nottingham and Munich in 2011 found that curcumin could be helpful in treating painful inflammatory conditions, such as tendonitis and arthritis.
Don’t believe me? Here’s one more link to a BBC article about some further research into Turmeric’s health benefits that’s been carried out in our beloved North East – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-37408293
Maybe most significantly – it’s super yummy in not only curries, but also in juices, tea and our orangey, coconutty chia seed pudding (see above)… NOM.
In summary, no, you don’t have to try and fit this ingredient into every meal, but it definitely shouldn’t be resigned to the back of the spice rack! Top tip though, if you’re going to have it raw (i.e not in a curry) best to heat it up first. Whether that’s in mylk, or just a little water – it helps to lessen the slightly bitter taste.