The Power of Turmeric


April 10, 2014
In Nutrition

SUJA_TurmericTurmeric, also referred to as the golden healer has been long recognized by yogis and ayurvedic healers since ancient times.  Its healing properties are as impressive as its culinary blessings.  Grown mainly in India, the turmeric root is a cousin to ginger root. Turmeric is most often dried and ground into a fine powder that is a brilliant gold color.  As you may know, appreciate any food with personality, whether it is its bright color, flavorful burst, or interesting aroma.  As these personalities are usually related to its natural health properties.  You may be more familiar with turmeric for its role in flavorful golden curries, bright yellow mustard, and in some cases an economical substitute for expensive saffron.

Its medicinal qualities are primarily related to its rich source of antioxidants, such as its chief active compound, curcumin.  Curcumin plays a protective role for the liver and decreases the risks associated with liver disease.  Another protective antioxidant function of curcumin is its ability to boost immune function. Antioxidants protect the body from free radical causing oxidative damage of DNA and proteins which can increase the risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and neurodegenerative diseases.  Medical research praises curcumin for its anti-inflammatory properties,.  In fact, they are more potent than those found in vitamin E and C.  So, its not a surprise that research also suggests a potential health role for turmeric as an anti-aging ingredient.

Surprising research finds that turmeric’s delicious flavors may have overall feel good properties.  In a ground breaking study published in the 2013 journal of Phytotheraphy Research, the primary antioxidant in turmeric, curcumin, was both safe and effective in treating serious states of depression. The objective of the trial was to compare the efficacy and safety of curcumin with Prozac in 60 patients diagnosed with clinical depression.  The results were the first clinical evidence for the anti-depressant qualities of turmeric.  The implications of this study are that there are no side effects of turmeric compared to the common pharmacologics used for the treatment of depression. Studies like this continue to confirm the timeless wisdom of medicinal plants.

So how can we get more turmeric into our daily meals?  Enjoying authentic Indian food is a great start. Curry lentil dishs, and Indian Dahl, or Moroccan Chicken are easy to find.  Adding turmeric to beverages is another way to reap the health benefits and enjoy its flavors.  Teas with turmeric are an interesting and easy way to get introduced.  You will find that on the island of Okinawa, where the world’s longest average life span occurs, tea made with turmeric is very common.  A simple recipe of hot water, a teaspoon of ground turmeric, lemon, honey and a touch of ginger is the basis for this medicinal tea.  Other more flavorful adventures in the world of beverages and smoothies marry both the flavor combinations and dream team effects of synergistic health properties that come only when you combine natural healthful ingredients.  One of my favorites is the Suja Classic combination of carrots, orange, apple, pineapple, lemon and turmeric. Try it today!

Cheers,

Suja Juice

(1)   Jayesh Sanmukhani, Vimal Satodia, Jaladhi Trivedi, Tejas Patel, Deepak Tiwari, Bharat Panchal, Ajay Goel, Chandra Bhanu Tripathi. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Jul 6. Epub 2013 Jul 6. PMID: 23832433

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Julie Upton

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Julie is a San Francisco-based registered dietitian and nutrition communications specialist. Ms. Upton received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from Michigan State University and completed her dietetic internship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. She holds a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University and is co-author of The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits and Slim Solutions (Penguin 2013). Upton is co-founder of Appetite for Health (www.AppforHealth.com), where she writes daily about nutrition, fitness and health.