If you’ve ever been asked the question “What’s one food you couldn’t live without?” you’ve probably had to think long and hard about the best possible answer. As a nutritionist, I know that there are thousands of foods with amazing health-boosting benefits. However, in my opinion, none are better than turmeric root!
While the deep yellow spice may seem like an unconventional choice, the so-called “Indian gold” packs a powerful punch when it comes to health. Not only is it a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound, it also has been proven to have over 50 healing properties.
Here are 6 reasons why you should include turmeric in your next meal:
1. It’s an antacid to soothe digestive problems: Curcumin, the active agent that gives turmeric its characteristic yellow pigment, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that helps to alleviate dyspepsia, indigestion, and GI tract inflammation. In ancient Chinese history, turmeric was used to heal digestive issues such as flatulence and upset stomach.
2. It can speed wound healing and prevent infection: Did you know that bandages contain turmeric in India? With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric has long been utilized to speed up the healing process and ward off infectious agents like bacteria.
3. It’s an analgesic that can relieve headaches: Typically, drugs like NSAIDs are used to treat and relieve headache symptoms by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation. The anti-inflammatory mechanism of action of curcumin, however, may have the same effects, naturally.
4. It’s a stimulant to improve blood flow: Turmeric has historically been used to stimulate and improve blood circulation. It has been used to enhance blood flow in order to treat menstrual cramps, amenorrhea, and in the prevention of atherosclerotic plaque buildup in the arteries.
5. It can clear skin problems: Curcumin can help to repair skin, promote collagen production regenerate tissue, and even help in the management of acne and breakouts with its oil-controlling properties. Furthermore, it protects against aging, hyperpigmentation and even psoriasis.
6. It can protect against cancer. Turmeric is sometimes referred to as the “anti-cancer spice,” with research studies showing how it inhibits the activation of genes that trigger cancer, impedes the spread of tumor cells, hinders the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells, and kills cells that mutate into cancer.
Just a little bit of turmeric goes a long way. Even modest amounts of this spice can have a potent effect on your palate, your body, and even your brain. Populations that eat more curry – with the main spice being turmeric – tend to have better scores on cognition tests. And India’s low dementia rate is due in part to the population’s high intake of turmeric. The spice reduces the buildup of the protein known as amyloid-beta, which is found in greater concentrations in demented brains.
It’s easy to harness the healing powers of this powerful spice by adding it to your stir-fries, meats, poultry, or fish recipes. It’s also a tasty addition to soups and stews, and can be used in dishes with cruciferous vegetables for added protection against toxins and to promote healthy metabolic detoxification. To maximize on food synergy, try to include a little black pepper with the turmeric, as the combination helps your body to absorb more curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) than it would otherwise.
Here is one of my favorite curry recipes from my book, Whole Detox, to get you started:
Chicken and Cauliflower Curry (Serves 2)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ½- inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- ½ medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 2- inch strips
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened, full- fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon tapioca flour
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower
- 2 4- ounce organic, free- range, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1- inch pieces
- 1 cup cooked white quinoa
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil, then add the onion, garlic, ginger, and bell pepper, and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, honey, water, curry powder, turmeric powder, tapioca flour, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the cauliflower and chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the cauliflower is soft. Spoon the prepared quinoa onto a serving plate, and top it with half the hot curry, then garnish the dish with the cilantro and green onions.
Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally recognized, cutting-edge wellness and lifestyle medicine expert who has mastered the art of integrating ancient healing traditions with modern science. Her unique “whole self” approach to nutrition looks at physiology, psychology, eating, and living within what she calls the “7 Systems of Health.” A five-time book author, and founder of Food & Spirit, she continues to do detox programs with individuals to help them achieve better health. Her new book is Whole Detox, published by HarperCollins in March 2016. For more information, visit drdeannaminich.com
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