Is Turmeric Good For You?
I have recently started working part time with a lovely turmeric based company called Wunderworkshop. They make delicious turmeric based dairy free milks, vegan latte mixes, honey and tea. My main job is help develop the blog with recipes using the products along with some food styling and photography. It is a lot of fun, because I get to do something I love- recipe innovate!
Being an Indian, turmeric or haldi has dominated almost every meal that I have had growing up. It is used in Indian cooking, to colour, to spice to cleanse. My Mangalorean roots means that we also use the turmeric leaves to flavour our desserts! My Maharashtrian mother in law uses turmeric as a base to all her cooking and would be lost without it! When I was little, turmeric was mixed with hot milk and given to me when I had a cough and cold. The benefits of turmeric milk to heal and cure a cough is amazing! To date I still stand by this natural remedy! Turmeric is used as an anti-bacterial when cooking, especially when marinating meat and fish. It is an amazing anti-coagulant and a knife cut in the kitchen would always be quickly remedied by daubing on some turmeric powder. When I was getting married, turmeric paste was used in a ceremony to ‘brighten’ my skin and make sure that I was a glowing bride!As you can see, turmeric has been a vital part of my life growing up in India.
In the UK, turmeric is currently trending the health food industry. It has even been declared the superfood ingredient to watch for this 2016! Turmeric milk or ‘golden mylk’ is popping up in various health food establishments. Turmeric is being added to a variety of healthy snacks, salad dressings, biscuits, smoothies and juices. I recently heard that some places in London also sell turmeric shots! I always knew that turmeric was good for health, but I did not know why or how. In the process of writing an article on the health benefits of turmeric for the Wunderworkshop blog, I discovered amazing qualities of this healing spice which I would like to share with you.
What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?
The healing agent in turmeric comes from the oil or the pigment called curcumin. Studies have shown curcumin to have amazing anti-inflammatory properties. This means it can protect the body from long terms effects of inflammation. Inflammation in small amounts is a good thing for the body as it helps in the repair of damage and fight any foreign invaders in the body. However when inflammation is chronic or long term, it then ends up injuring the body. Chronic inflammation is the reason for a huge host of diseases that we see in this modern day and age. Chronic inflammation causes arthritis, Irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, cancer, liver dysfunction as well as mental health problems like depression. Curcumin actually targets these steps of inflammation at a molecular level and prevents it from happening. Free radicles are highly reactive molecules which react with organic substances in the body such as protein, DNA or fatty acids and cause inflammation. Due to the structure of curcumin, it neutralizes these free radicles and prevents oxidation. It also helps boost your bodies own antioxidant enzymes. Studies have even found that curcumin is better than any anti-inflammatory drug!
Studies have also found that in the case of certain cancers such as breast, prostrate and colon cancer, curcumin can help slow down the mutation of cancerous cells and the spread of cancer. It can also help reduce the growth of cancerous tumours in prostrate cancer. Turmeric can help the liver in its detoxification process and improve liver function. Due its anti-inflammatory nature, curcumin can help reduce cholesterol levels and in turn heart diseases. This is because it can prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the blood streams.
Finally an interesting note about turmeric is that the curcumin in it is not easy bioavailable. This means that is cannot be easily absorbed or made available in the body. However there are ways around this. Consuming turmeric with black pepper, helps make it more bioavailable. The piperine in black pepper helps the body to absorb the curcumin and make it more bio-available. This is not the same as the substance found in chilies. Hence it is important to add black pepper when consuming turmeric. Further turmeric is fat soluble as well as heat soluble. This means that it can be better absorbed by the body when mixed with a fat like ghee or coconut oil or with heated liquids. Make sure to use a fat or heated liquid when making your turmeric based recipes.
Quick and Easy Paleo Dinner
Since I was working with Wunderworkshop’s blog, I came up with a turmeric hummus recipe. In this hummus, the turmeric plays an important role in flavour as well as colour. In Indian food, turmeric tends to be a background spice and is rarely tasted. With all its healing abilities, I feel that turmeric should be provided with a more prominent status. After taking some food photos and working on the recipe I was wondering how to add this turmeric hummus to make a healthy quick dinner. I wanted then came up with this delicious and easy recipe combination. It is simple, grain free and packed with nutrition. It involves using the turmeric hummus as one of the baked sweet potato fillings. I bake sweet potatoes whole and then stuffed them with a healthy slathering of my turmeric hummus, fresh green salad of spinach leaves, lettuce and mint and finally topped with pomegranate!
It was such a great flavour combination and so creamy and filling. I would ideally suggest that you use sweet potatoes for a good nutrient low carb boost. However regular potatoes will easily work and taste as good. You can choose the type of greens to top it with. Even rocket or watercress would work and skip the pomegranate if you cannot get your hands on it. I find this to be a fun way to introduce turmeric powder into your everyday meal. Give this simple weekday dinner idea a try and let me know how it comes out!
As always, I would love to be a part of your creations! Feel free to post your feedback and comments below and if you use Instagram, tag your creations and food photography with #meghnas or #meghnaskitchen so that I can see them as well!