Turmeric, the spice that gives many curries a rich, golden color and a warm, satisfying flavor, is also an antioxidant powerhouse that has been used for thousands of years in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Considered anti-inflammatory, turmeric is used to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds. Closely related to ginger, turmeric is an herbaceous herb native to the Indian subcontinent. The root can be used fresh, although it’s more commonly sold and used in powdered form, like we probably have on our spice shelf.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most of the current research on the uses of turmeric focuses on one chemical constituent, curcumin. “Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.” You can read more about this and other current research on turmeric here: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric#ixzz2iZQz2RqW
If you still feel like learning more, Dr. Andrew Weil wrote an excellent article on the benefits of turmeric for the Huffington Post. It’s a few years old but well worth the read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/turmeric-health-have-a-happy-new-year_b_798328.html In it, he highlights research studying the possibility of turmeric – or more specifically curcumin – shrinking melanomas, making cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation and delaying the liver damage that leads to cirrhosis. His conclusion? “The bottom line that the therapeutic advantages of turmeric and curcumin are almost too numerous to list.
An overview published in Advanced Experimental Medical Biology in 2007 states that, “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses.” But if you want a more delicious way to work turmeric into your day, why don’t you try this week’s smoothie, from our friends over at Green Kitchen Stories.
Serves: 2 large or 4 small glasses
- 2 cups organic yogurt with active live culture
- 2 bananas
- 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp honey, preferably unpasteurized
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 2 tsp rosehip powder (optional but delicious, and a good C-vitamin boost)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or ground vanilla
- 3-4 tsp ground turmeric (or fresh turmeric root)
- 4-5 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high speed until smooth. Add more yogurt if you prefer. Pour the lassi in two large glasses. For a more stunning presentation, dust 1 tsp ground turmeric on top before serving. Add a straw and serve.