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Turmeric: Health Benefits and Uses

Updated on January 30, 2020
ShailaSheshadri profile image

I like to cook and eat natural, healthy, and tasty foods, and I enjoy sharing recipes from my native Indian cuisine.

Turmeric was in use since several thousand years

Curcuma Longa(scientific name), popularly known as turmeric is an herbaceous rhizome. It belongs to the same family of ginger. Turmeric and ginger look almost the same. Turmeric is fondly referred to as 'Queen of the Spices', maybe due to its' deep yellow color and powerful nutrients.

Turmeric has slightly bitter taste, bright yellow color, and pepper-like aroma. Hindus consider turmeric sacred. They use turmeric in religious activities. Married Hindu women exchange turmeric and vermillion with other married women, during family gatherings, and religious functions. A set of turmeric and vermillion container is always seen in Hindu houses. The exchange of turmeric and vermillion symbolize the appreciation of married status and wishes for their husband's long life.

Turmeric powder
Turmeric powder

Turmeric is extensively used in Indian cooking and in-home remedies. It is a 'must-have' item in the kitchen. It is loaded with many powerful nutrients such as protein, niacin, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, copper, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

According to the Journal of American Chemical Society, Turmeric contains plenty of antioxidants, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, antiviral, and antimutagenic properties.

Due to all these properties and nutrients, turmeric is often used to treat various health problems. People keep turmeric in the kitchen, mainly intending to use this precious herb daily to reap maximum health benefits.

Let us now find out in detail the health benefits offered by turmeric.

fresh turmeric roots
fresh turmeric roots
dry turmeric
dry turmeric
Turmeric and vermillion tray at home
Turmeric and vermillion tray at home
turmeric leaves
turmeric leaves

Health Benefits of Turmeric

1. Turmeric can prevent cancer:

I often read in newspapers and magazines that turmeric prevents cancer formation in the body. It can stop the further spreading of cancer in patients who have cancer growth; especially in the case of prostate cancer.

Researchers have found out that turmeric protects the best against radiation-induced tumors. It is believed to have a preventive effect on breast cancer, colon cancer, and also T-cell leukemia.

2. Helps in relieving arthritis:

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, people suffering from arthritis and osteoarthritis can benefit from the moderate consumption of turmeric daily. Inflammation in the joints and joint pain gets relieved with turmeric use. The antioxidant property of turmeric helps in destroying free radicals in the body that harm body cells.

3. Controls diabetes:

Turmeric consumption helps in reducing insulin resistance, which may help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Turmeric can be used as a home remedy that may help to maintain proper insulin level. It helps to reduce sugar level and aids in affecting the medication used to treat diabetes.

Home-made turmeric drink

turmeric, coriander seeds, cinnamon and peppercorns inside the boiling water
turmeric, coriander seeds, cinnamon and peppercorns inside the boiling water

Recipe of turmeric drink:

I make turmeric drink daily in my home. My husband drinks it daily, as a medication to lower cholesterol levels and to maintain a moderate blood sugar level. It is said that it helps in lowering hypertension too.

Boil two glasses of water. Add 1-inch cinnamon, 5-6 peppercorns, 1/4 small teaspoon turmeric, and 1 teaspoon coriander seeds. All these ingredients have a special quality which makes the drink medicinal. Boil, till it reduces to half. Put off the fire. Strain the water when it is still warm. My husband drinks a glass of this water daily in the morning, as a home remedy to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Along with these benefits, you will also have the advantages of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant and other properties of turmeric in this drink.

4. Improves immunity:

Regular consumption of turmeric can boost your immunity level. This is mainly due to the substance called 'lipopolysaccharide' in it. The factors like antiviral, antifungal, and antiinflammatory help to protect the body from getting diseases and strengthen the immune system.

5. Heals wound:

Turmeric has an antiseptic and antibacterial property. Hence, if you apply turmeric powder on the burn or cut wound, it will make the wound heal faster. It has the property to repair the damaged skin. This is the reason why it is used in treating psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

People apply turmeric paste on the face to get rid of acne, pimples and other blemishes on the skin. The antiseptic property of turmeric helps in healing the acne faster.

You would have observed, band-aid which we use to cover the wound has a turmeric layer in it. This is mainly to heal the wound quicker and also to prevent further infection.

6. Reduces cholesterol:

Maintaining optimum cholesterol levels is a must. Otherwise, high cholesterol may lead to several health problems.

Research has proved the fact that daily usage of turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce the serum cholesterol levels.

The home-made turmeric drink, which I have shown above, is also helpful in reducing the cholesterol level.

7. Obesity control:

People who want to lose weight or treat obesity can benefit from consuming some turmeric during daily meals. Turmeric has a compound that helps to increase the flow of bile, which is needed for breaking down dietary fat. This way, turmeric helps in maintaining the ideal body weight.

8. Protects the liver:

The liver detoxifies the blood with the help of enzymes produced by it. Turmeric has the power to increase the production of such an enzyme, thus helping in reducing the toxins in the body. Turmeric is believed to aid in proper blood circulation also.

9. Improves digestion:

Turmeric is being used in cooking for several thousand years. One of the reasons for usage may be due to its' digestive qualities. Turmeric can stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile, which is the key factor in food digestion.

The use of turmeric in food reduces bloating and gas problems. It helps in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis.

A caution to add here is, people with gallbladder diseases should not take a turmeric supplement, as it may worsen the condition. Consult a doctor in this regard.

Turmeric use in curries
Turmeric use in curries
Patholi- a sweet made using turmeric leaf
Patholi- a sweet made using turmeric leaf

10. Prevents Alzheimer's disease:

Turmeric has a positive effect on the brain also. Cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease is believed to be occurring due to brain inflammation. Turmeric helps in removing the plaque formation in the brain and improves blood circulation. This, in turn, can prevent the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Uses of Turmeric:

  • Crush dried turmeric roots(or turmeric powder), add it to milk and boil for a few minutes. Drain, drink it daily to relieve from the cold and itching throat.
  • Use turmeric in daily cooking, to ensure regular consumption. Turmeric goes well with most of the spicy dishes. The use of turmeric may not complement the sweet dishes.
  • Use peppercorns with turmeric whenever possible to get the maximum benefits. I have already mentioned the reason for this.
  • You can use turmeric to apply on the burn and cut wounds, for faster healing. You can apply turmeric on the face, to get rid of acne and other blemishes on the skin.
  • It is used in many Ayurvedic medicines. Turmeric is used in home remedies also.
  • Consult a doctor before taking a turmeric supplement.

Nutritional Information of Turmeric

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 100 g
Calories 354
Calories from Fat90
% Daily Value *
Fat 10 g15%
Saturated fat 3 g15%
Carbohydrates 65 g22%
Sugar 3 g
Fiber 21 g84%
Protein 8 g16%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 38 mg2%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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