Even for those of us who aren’t heading to class this September, the busy `back-to-school` rush is underway. Why not try something different this season and spice up the regular routine? What about turmeric?  For me, I love the colour and taste of turmeric. I use it in a variety of chicken and lentil dishes. I’d like to share with you why turmeric is the top spice in my pantry.

Colour and Taste

Turmeric is part of the ginger family of herbs, which is the reason why I’m fond of the taste so much. It comes from the rhizome (underground root) of the plant Curcuma longa.  Native to Indonesia and Southern India, turmeric has been harvested for more than 5,000 years and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and a textile dye.

Turmeric Nutrition Profile

  • Is rich in B vitamins. B vitamins help maintain the health of your nervous system and assist the metabolic function that supplies energy to meet your body’s needs.

Health Benefits of Curcumin

In addition to it being one of my favourite flavours, curcumin, the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow color, has increasingly come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with studies investigating its potential health benefits.

As a result, curcumin has been linked to a range of health benefits, including the potential to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases including prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes and arthritis. Extensive research within the last half century has proven that most of these activities, once associated with turmeric, are actually due to curcumin.

Hot topics among research scientists include curcumin as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer component.

Alzheimer’s disease

  • Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may also help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by exhibiting anti-amyloid plaque activity – a plaque that accumulates in the brain of patients with AD, interrupting proper brain functioning.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • The potential benefits of the curcuminoids is linked to a reduction in levels of free fatty acids (FFAs), confirmed by researchers at Harbin Medical University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • FFAs are reported to play a key role in the development of insulin resistance, and therefore decreasing levels of FFAs could help reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Cancer

  • According to the American Cancer Society, in laboratory studies with animals, curcumin has the potential to kill cancer cells, inhibit the growth of remaining cells and shrink the tumours.

 

How much should I consume?

Although an optimal dose for turmeric has not been determined, taking large doses does not appear to cause serious side effects. Doses of up to 12 g have been administered without causing any adverse reactions, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, doses of 1 to 3 g of turmeric powder are often taken, while purified curcumin can be administered at doses of 1,200 to 1,800 mg per day.

Five tips to add more turmeric to meals and snacks

  • Mix brown rice with raisins and cashews and season with turmeric, cumin and coriander
  • Add a bit of this spice to sautéed apples, steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions
  • Marinate raw chicken in turmeric for at least 30 minutes, then add it to the ingredients in your favourite casserole and/or stir-fry
  • Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder colour and flavour
  • For a creamy, flavor-rich, dip, try mixing some turmeric and dried onion with 2% Greek yogurt and pepper, then  serve it with your favourite raw veggies

Recipe

Enjoy this delicious squash and red lentil stew recipe. It is easy to make extra and freeze it, so you have a nutritious, tasty meal on the busy ‘school’ nights, as autumn begins to roll around.