If you are in India or any other South East Asian country, you would surely notice a yellow hue in some of their authentic dishes. This is a result of the turmeric spice, native to India which imparts a yellowish-saffron color in your food. Along with Asia, traits of turmeric are also found in Middle-Eastern cuisine. The many benefits of turmeric powder along with a general insight into this golden spice is what you are going to find in this article!
Turmeric – An Introduction to the Spice
Raw turmeric is a spice that is procured from the roots of a flowering turmeric plant, belonging to the ginger family. It is native to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. One main use of turmeric powder is in cooking. While you can grate the long and oblong ginger-like roots in your preparation, dried, ground turmeric is like a powder that gives your food a golden tinge. The color usually varies widely from deep to bright orange-ish yellow, depending upon the variety of raw turmeric used. It is a typical ingredient in curries and also an important component of curry powder.
In the traditional Indian system of treatment called the Ayurveda, turmeric has long been known to have medicinal values. With the advent of science, we can slowly be sure that in actuality, turmeric cures a lot of ailments, illnesses, and diseases, hinting at the manifold benefits of turmeric.
The nutritional value of Turmeric Powder
To understand the benefits of turmeric powder, first, let us take a look at its nutritional values.
Verified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a tablespoon of this golden powder contains:
- 29 calories
- 0.31g of fat
- 0.91g of protein
- 6.31g of carbohydrates
- 0.3g of sugar
- 2.1g of fiber
The same tablespoon of turmeric powder also provides:
- 16% of daily iron
- 26% of daily manganese needs
- 3% of daily vitamin C
- 5% of daily potassium.
The two usual forms of turmeric: Dried and Fresh
The most popular form of the spice is dried and ground, which is widely used in Indian curries in the form of powdered turmeric. Along with that, fresh turmeric is also becoming a hit in the Western markets, slowly. Raw turmeric is juicy in nature and has a bit of sweetness to it.
For those who want to try preparing turmeric powder from fresh turmeric,
- 1 inch of fresh turmeric can roughly produce 1 tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric
- This 1 tablespoon of grated turmeric is equivalent to or can produce 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric.
What does turmeric taste like?
According to many chefs, turmeric doesn’t have any distinct taste. Its aroma is earthy and pungent with a hint of mustard and hence, it bears a bitter flavor to it. A few of the benefits of turmeric, from the point of view of cooking, is that since the spice gets stronger when cooked, if added earlier in the entire cooking process, it brings out all the other flavors of the dish, also giving it a yellow color. Experts believe that the small touch of bitterness in turmeric gives a different dimension to dishes altogether.
Until now, we mainly discussed some of the key character traits of turmeric powder. We are now going to learn about some of the major benefits of turmeric and see how turmeric cures or helps to prevent various health complications and diseases.
Curcumin as an ingredient in turmeric
Very recently, with the advent of medical science, it is now proven that the 4000-year-old spice actually has compounds with medicinal values. Curcuminoids are these compounds, of which Curcumin is the most important. It is an active ingredient in turmeric and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. It is also an anti-oxidant which is very strong in nature. Hence, one of the main benefits of turmeric is the fact that it has the ability to suppress almost all the molecules that are known to severely contribute and take an active role in inflammation.
Improved functioning and lower risk of diseases in the brain
Neurons are always capable of forming new connections but at times, they also multiply and increase in number. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is mainly the cause of this process. It is nothing but a growth hormone, which when decreases, can cause someone depression and Alzheimer’s disease. However, Curcumin, an active part of turmeric, has the capability to increase the BDNF levels, thus lowering the risk of exposing the brain to diseases. The fact that turmeric improves brain function (and makes you smarter given that it increases the BDNF levels) is also one of the positive benefits of turmeric.
Lower risk of heart diseases
The greatest number of deaths in the world are due to heart-related diseases. Curcumin reverses many steps in any heart disease process. The functioning of the lining of blood vessels in the heart, called the endothelium, is said to improve with a designated intake of turmeric powder. Some studies even show that turmeric works as well as the drug Atorvastatin.
In preventing cancer
Curcumin in turmeric has been long identified as a beneficial component in affecting cancer growth, its development, and its spread at the very molecular level. Hence, one of the main benefits of turmeric is the fact that it can contribute towards killing cancerous cells and keeping a check on the growth and spread of new blood vessels in tumors, especially those which have to do with the digestive system like colorectal cancer. Though a lot of intensive studies is yet to be done, the benefits of turmeric as far as preventing and even treating cancer is concerned, has a bright future and looks pretty much promising.
In preventing and treating Alzheimer’s Disease
When it comes to neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s is common. It is also one of the leading causes of dementia, with no good treatment yet. Hence, preventing it by crossing the blood-brain barrier is of utmost importance for the time being, and that is exactly what is done by any turmeric powder with a high quantity of curcumin in it. It also clears built up protein tangles called amyloid plaques, sourced from Alzheimer’s disease.
Good response from arthritis and depression patients
In almost all the various types of arthritis, inflammation in joints is very popular. Curcumin being anti-inflammatory, raw turmeric often helps with these illnesses and at times is even more effective than medicated drugs. On the other hand, intake of turmeric as turmeric powder is as effective as Prozac in treating symptoms of depression.
Along with these direct benefits of turmeric powder, there are also preparations that you can make out of the powder from raw turmeric, like, turmeric tea, immunity-boosting drinks, or golden turmeric milk. All of these have percentages of health advantages of their own. You can also try out different turmeric supplements which are almost like turmeric powder but enriched with more plant compounds for better health results.