Turmeric is all the rage lately and it’s no wonder… this spice has healing and disease-fighting powers that you need! It’s not as hard as you may think to find delicious turmeric uses to add this exotic-sounding ingredient to your daily cooking. Dr. Michael Fenster, a cardiologist and professional chef, shares five reasons why it’s imperative to get more turmeric in your diet plus six ways to use turmeric in your daily diet.
If you’re a fan of spices, curries and tasty food in general, you probably know a thing or two about turmeric. But there’s an ancient secret about this uniquely flavored spice: it has some serious healing power. Our ancestors knew all about it, but only recently have modern nutritionists and health professionals become big time fans, according to Dr. Michael Fenster, a Montana-based medical professional, teacher, author and expert on the relationship between food and health.
It’s hard to blame them though. Who would have guessed that what started off as a bright golden fabric dye, now infuses mustard, butter and a host of other treats with a vibrancy the color of sunlight, and a powerhouse of healing as well?
The Secret to Health Success
The powers of this spice are plenty, and there a lots of turmeric uses too-it’s something you can easily start adding to your daily regimen. Turmeric supplements, readily available, usually contain black pepper, as well. Why? Because turmeric has low bioavailability, which means it is not absorbed well by the body. When paired with pepper, the absorption of turmeric into the bloodstream in enhanced, which helps ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. If you choose to add turmeric to meals, forgoing the supplements, follow the Indian classic of combining black pepper to dishes that include turmeric.
How To Use Turmeric In Your Diet
A simple way to use turmeric is to add it into your diet. Turmeric can typically be added to the diet in one of two forms; as a powder or as a fresh root. Many people only think of it as a spice to sprinkle on top of your meal, but there are a lot more turmeric uses than you may realize. Before you use the fresh root, you have to peel it and then cut off whole pieces. Turmeric pieces can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 10 days. The best ways to add turmeric to your daily routine include:
- Breakfast: Add one or two teaspoons of turmeric to your eggs in the morning, scrambled or in a frittata or quiche. You’ll get a bold taste and an even bolder color.
- Smoothies: A simple way to use turmeric is to put it in a smoothie! Simply take a one-inch piece of the root and blend it together with any fruit or juice of your choosing. Another way to use turmeric is to just add a teaspoon of powdered turmeric to your juice or smoothie-just mix it right in!
- Snacks: Top your Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of turmeric, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt for a unique and tasty savory yogurt bowl.
- Marinade for meats: A flavorful way to use turmeric is to add turmeric to any of your favorite marinade recipes to give a zesty little kick to that chicken or fish.
- Salad Dressing: Stir some turmeric into any salad dressing.
- Desserts: Blend one teaspoon of turmeric to pumpkin pie batter to add rich flavor and color.
Now that you know how to get some turmeric uses for getting it INTO your diet, let’s review why it’s so important in the first place. Turmeric is a spice with a multitude of secret health benefits. Here are a few.
- Natural Pain Reliever
A unique flavor and delightfully brilliant hue are not all turmeric has to offer. Turmeric has been demonstrated to be an effective pain reliever. The medical world has developed several medications and treatments to deal with inflammation, most commonly, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). While these medications can help alleviate symptoms of inflammation, they also can come with some unpleasant side effects. Turmeric provides a more natural approach to pain relief by suppressing inflammation responses throughout your body, without the uncomfortable, and downright scary, litany of side effects recited on those drug commercials.
- Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Curcumin, the primary active ingredient of turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Given the extent of damage inflammation and toxins can do to our bodies, this little compound is just what you have been looking for. Used in India and China for centuries as a medicinal herb, turmeric has caught the attention of the Western world in regards to preventing chronic inflammation. We need inflammation to protect us acutely from pathogenic takeover and to help heal injuries, but chronic inflammation is responsible for the breakdown of the body from within.
Curcumin helps to keep inflammation responses controlled by interfering with the pathway on a molecular level. Nuclear Factor Kappa-Beta (NF-κβ) is a molecule that travels to the nuclei of cells, triggering the inflammation-related genes. Curcumin is able to prevent this meeting in a more natural way than the leading medications without serious side effects. Along with inflammation, oxidative damage is known to contribute to aging and many diseases. Thankfully, curcumin also possesses antioxidant qualities to neutralize those oxidative-causing free radicals and prevent damage.
- Digestive Aide
Inflammation is the common pathway for many digestive troubles and diseases, including GERD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Curcumin helps increase gastric mucus production, which protects the stomach lining from damage that can occur from poor diet or allergies. Turmeric has been used for centuries to support liver and digestive function because it increases bile flow into the intestines, essential for proper digestion. Regular turmeric supplements support liver healthy function and total digestion, and simply promote overall health.
- An Ally Against Cancer
Characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells, cancer can affect anyone in any part of the body, regardless of age, gender or health. Researchers have found that curcumin has the ability to hinder cancer growth, development and spread at a molecular level. Not only can curcumin contribute to the death of cancer cells, it reduces angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels in tumors. When combined with other powerful natural foods such as fish oil, olive or coconut oil and black pepper, curcumin’s anti-cancer effects are even better!
- Brain Booster
A number of common brain disorders are linked to decreased levels BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor); curcumin increases the levels of this hormone. The presence of curcumin may help to delay and even reverse degenerative neurogenic diseases, as well as help prevent age-related decreases in brain function. Curcumin’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, as well as its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, may even make turmeric beneficial in disrupting the progression of Alzheimer’s. Curcumin has also been shown to clear plaque, a key contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Turmeric has a lot of health benefits that you don’t want to miss!
- Adding turmeric into your diet helps to suppress inflammation and alleviate pain associated with inflammation.
- Turmeric in your diet can help support liver and digestive function.
- Turmeric can help in cancer prevention and even in preventing Alzheimer’s.
- There are so many turmeric uses that you can incorporate into your daily diet.
Michael S. Fenster, known to friends and fans simply as “Dr. Mike,” is a board-certified interventional cardiologist, professional chef, and currently serves on the Doctor Advisory Board for 1MD.org.
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