“Let food be thy medicine…” Never before has this doctrine been more true. With countless scientific studies proving its validity, we are seeing a long list of nutrients making their way to the forefront of research headlines. Research is showing that garlic lowers cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids improve the mood, ginger eases nausea, and cinnamon reduces blood pressure. Another spice that has continued to demonstrate profound health benefits? One of our favorites: turmeric.
The Basics: A brightly colored relative of ginger, this finger-staining orange spice is an Indian food staple. It’s the key ingredient in curries, a favorite addition to lassi and now a highly promising therapy for various ailments. Turmeric’s pharmacological component is derived from its yellow or orange pigment called curcumin. Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound that has been used for centuries in ayurveda. Historically, it has been used as a treatment for ailments such as allergies, diabetes and ulcers, as well as an agent to treat menstrual difficulties, hemorrhage and bruises.
The Benefits: While the benefits of many of turmeric’s traditional uses are yet to be proven, science has recognized its anti-inflammatory capabilities. In numerous studies, curcumin has proven to have anti-inflammatory effects, many of which may be comparable to potent drugs and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Curcumin shuts down acute inflammation by blocking the activation of a key protein that triggers the immune response. By reducing inflammation, turmeric has has the potential to aid in the treatment of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, Chron’s disease, cardiovascular disease and chronic anterior uveitis.
Another reason to add this vibrant spice to your medicine cabinet is to keep your memory sharp and intact. Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggest curcumin has the ability to enter the brain tissue, preventing the loss of neurons. This has the potential to improve the working memory, the part of the brain that controls planning, problem solving and reasoning. Additionally, researchers believe it can help to prevent dementia and improve Alzheimer’s disease.
Let’s do it: Adding turmeric into the diet is easier than you think. It has a warm, slightly peppery flavor to it, making it an excellent match for grain bowls, curry dishes and even savory salads. We are big fans of going beyond the conventional uses too, throwing it into our superfood drinks and juices like this Turmeric-Spiked Lassi. And if you’re in need of a quick fix, grab a bottle of Pressed Juicery’s latest seasonal blend. A personal Chalkboard favorite, it’s made with navel oranges, fuji apple, lemons and – you guessed it – turmeric.
Quality Control: The active constituents in turmeric root are quite delicate, so we recommend purchasing the root fresh when available. Simply grind or juice the root before using.