Is Turmeric Good for You?
This deep yellow spice is growing in popularity, for good reason — it may be golden in more ways than one.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about turmeric, which has long been a staple in Indian and Thai cooking and has more recently been featured in golden-milk latte recipes. What exactly is it? It’s a spice that comes from a plant with the same name, and it’s a main ingredient in curry powder. It’s also been gaining attention for its potential health benefits.
“Turmeric is lauded for its health benefits because it is a significant source of the polyphenol curcumin,” says Maya Feller, MS, RD, a dietitian in Brooklyn, New York, and author of The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook. “Polyphenols are antioxidant-rich micronutrients found in plants. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities of polyphenols have been studied for their therapeutic abilities to reduce oxidative damage in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, elevated lipids and brain diseases.”
Turmeric offers many other potential benefits, too. Research reveals that consuming turmeric can help with inflammation and muscle soreness from exercise. And preliminary research shows that the curcuminoids found in turmeric — the active ingredients that also give the spice its yellow hue — may help control knee pain to the same degree as ibuprofen, may help lower skin irritation that often happens after radiation treatments for certain types of cancer, and may even assist in lowering the number of heart attacks that bypass patients have following surgery, according to the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
As for making turmeric part of your diet, you don’t have to consume curry every day to get your fill. “I prefer to enjoy turmeric in savory recipes such as a butternut squash bisque because it is easy to incorporate ground black pepper, as well,” says Emily Kyle, MS, RDN, CLT, a dietitian in Rochester, New York, and author of The Hashimoto’s AIP Cookbook. “Black pepper contains a powerful component called piperine that has been shown to help increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000%.”
Feller’s favorite way to enjoy turmeric is to combine it with cumin, coriander seeds, black pepper, ground ginger, fresh garlic and onion to create a currylike paste for chickpeas and veggies.
Here are a few more tasty recipes with turmeric for you to try:
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, ReadersDigest.com, NBCNews.com, and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List, where she shares easy, healthy recipes. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.