Long before turmeric found its way into your trendy lattes, Western herbal medical practitioners used it as a powerful and commonly indicated herb with a wide range of indications and uses.

Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as both a culinary spice (it gives that yellow colour to curry powders) and as a medicinal herb. Whilst current research on turmeric is certainly yielding ‘promising’ results for preventing and treating many health conditions, there is a long way to go before we fully understand how turmeric can benefit us. However in my opinion, it’s certainly a herb worthy of including in your diet as well as taking medicinally (under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner) if indicated.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric
Turmeric is rich in many compounds that contain medicinal properties. The most widely researched are a group of compounds called curcuminoids (specifically curcumin) that appears to be the active ingredient in turmeric. Only a very small amount of curcumin is present in turmeric and its absorption is vastly enhanced by ingesting it with black pepper and fat (as it is a fat-soluble compound). Whilst whole turmeric (fresh or dried root) only contains about 3 per cent curcumin, supplements contain much higher amounts of active curcuminoids (with a much greater medicinal effect).

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Most of the degenerative diseases facing Western societies involve oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. As turmeric is a powerful anti-oxidant and has strong anti-inflammatory properties, it is very indicated to both prevent and treat a number of common health conditions. In some studies, its effectiveness with fighting inflammation has been favourably compared to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, but without any noticed side effect.

Some of the areas where turmeric is being researched is in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, various cancers, respiratory disease, allergies, immune support, a range of digestive disorders, skin conditions, autoimmune disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, after injury or trauma (to promote healing) and depression. As you can see its indications extend across a wide variety of conditions so it’s best to speak to your healthcare provider to ensure it is right for you or your family member.

10 ways to eat turmeric
Whilst I don’t believe we should base our diet on any one food or nutrient alone, turmeric is a spice that is quite easily (and deliciously) incorporated in the diet. So I thought I’d share 10 ways that it can be enjoyed, beyond the obvious:

  1. Add it to smoothies. It can be added to any of your favourite smoothie combos really. One of my family’s favourite immune-supportive blends is half a fresh pineapple, 2cm piece of ginger, 2cm piece fresh turmeric root (or a teaspoon of ground turmeric), a cup of chilled coconut water, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a grind of black pepper (to help the absorption of the curcumin) and a few heaped tablespoons of natural or coconut yoghurt. It’s delicious and one of my go-to smoothies at the first sign of a sniffle.
  2. In your porridge. Mix turmeric and cinnamon in with honey and drizzle it over your winter porridge.
  3. Make a homemade jelly (with juice and gelatin) and add in turmeric. Check out my immune boosting Lemon Turmeric Jellies recipe over at www.wellnourished.com.au
  4. Add it into your hot chocolate or a homemade chai tea.
  5. Add it into your chocolate cake or cookies. Its flavour hides well behind chocolate so feel free to use it to give your baking a boost.
  6. Add it to your scrambled eggs with a teaspoon of cumin powder – yum!
  7. Add it to mashed avocado with sea salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  8. Toss it with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and root vegetables before roasting.
  9. Add it to your favourite soup.
  10. Add it to a homemade salad dressing.

It really is food as medicine and can be easily incorporated as part of any healthy, whole foods diet.

Well Nourished

Well Nourished  

Founded by Georgia, a mum, cookbook author, naturopath with 19 years experience and the creator of The Well Nourished Lunch Box Challenge, Well Nourished delivers wholesome, easy-to-follow recipes targeted to busy families. Readers flock to Well Nourished for inspiring health advice and free, nourishing, family friendly recipes. // www.wellnourished.com.au