Health benefits and uses of turmeric

One of the most difficult things to give up when I moved to New Zealand was my spice cupboard. It was filled to the brim with spices from India, Middle East, Italy, Mexico… I had a hard time giving them away.

Luckily for me, Hamilton has all the spices I need, and the cupboard dedicated to my new collection is getting pretty stuffed.

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One of my favorite spices is turmeric. Most people know it as the stuff that makes curry yellow. But with its warm and slightly bitter taste, turmeric can be used for so much more than making curry (though that is definitely one of my preferred ways). And that is good news, because this relative of ginger is among the most powerful healing spices out there. The bright yellow spice has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years, and recently Western science has started to back up many of its claimed health benefits as well.

A natural anti-inflammatory, turmeric may be especially beneficial for athletes, as it could help speed up muscle recovery and improve sleep. Read on for turmeric’s other magical powers and how you can get more of it into your life.

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Turmeric’s health benefits

Curcumin, the substance that gives turmeric its yellow hue, is behind the plethora of health benefits attributed to this spice. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers soothes osteoarthritis pain, treats indigestion, may prevent heart attacks, delays the onset of diabetes, helps prevent cancer, lowers cholesterol, slows down and possibly even revert the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and could be as effective as an anti-depressant in patients with major depressant disorder.

How to eat more of this yellow superfood

  • Naturally, turmeric is an indispensable ingredient in Indian curries. Opt for pure turmeric rather than a curry mix to get a higher concentration of curcumin, or add a little turmeric when making curry;
  • Turmeric pairs very well with lentils, so add some whenever you make a lentil dish, whether it is a curry, soup, or salad featuring lentils;
  • Use it to make vegan scrambled ‘egg’: Sauté any vegetables you like in a pan. Think of onion, garlic, bell pepper or mushroom. Crumble some extra firm tofu and add to the vegetables. Add turmeric (half to one teaspoon, depending on the amount of tofu you used) to give it a yellow egg-like color and any other spices you like, such as cumin, chili or paprika powder. Season to taste and eat with a little toast. To make this scrambled egg creamer, add some nutritional yeast;
  • Make a healthy detox tea with turmeric and ginger (root or powder), or try this detox tonic;
  • Add it to your next smoothie;
  • Add turmeric when you make rice, about half teaspoon per two servings. It gives the rice a beautiful yellow hue;
  • Sauté some with your vegetables. Cauliflower or potatoes sautéed with turmeric taste and look delicious;
  • Add a little to your salad dressing to give it a yellow color;
  • Make a delicious Middle Eastern turmeric cake.

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