It's time to ditch the salt and add more anti-inflammatory spices into your diet. Give turmeric a try!
So, in response to this post’s title - YES, you should eat turmeric. I certainly do and I recommend it to my clients in order to spice up their diet in a super healthy and tasty way.
Nowadays, I can’t live without spices. Not only do they add flavor to dishes, but they provide significant health benefits. Turmeric blends really well with most dishes, so it's easy to add this pretty little spice into your diet.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a flavorful spice commonly used in southeast Asian cuisine. This beautifully-hued spice is available at many grocery stores, and commonly appears in the produce section as the fresh, raw root (on the outside turmeric appears similar to ginger as they are in the same family) or in the spice section as a dried powder form.
It’s also a flavorful component of curry powder. Turmeric is touted for its seemingly long list of health benefits, including anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancer) and anti-inflammatory properties. It seems there are juices, wellness shots, powders, pills and potions (and everything in between) containing turmeric and curcumin nowadays.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend oodles of money to get a little of the REAL good stuff! All you need to do is travel down to your market (Asian grocery stores will likely carry it, too) and pick up a knob or the powdered form of turmeric and then head into your kitchen to put it to good use!
Does turmeric have health benefits?YES! Just like fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices such as turmeric contain compounds that may protect our bodies from the inside out. And, when you combine the latter with the former, you are essentially prepping your body for optimum health (from a dietary perspective). You may have heard of curcumin. It’s a polyphenolic compound in turmeric that yields a bright yellow-orange color. It’s one of the compounds responsible for the potential health benefits of turmeric, which include…
- DNA Protection - Turmeric protects our precious DNA from oxidative stress from free radical damage. This is a big deal because DNA damage can lead to a host of health issues, including cancer. More superficially, DNA damage can also appear as crinkly wrinkly skin.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties - Chronic, low-grade inflammation is believed to be one of the root-cases of many degenerative diseases. Since you are what you eat, it's no surprise that diet and lifestyle play a large role in either quelling or causing inflammation. Curcumin seems to inhibit the molecules that are responsible for inflammation.
Increasing the amount of curcumin absorbed
Add Black Pepper: In order to increase the amount of curcumin absorbed into your bloodstream, eat it with a little bit of black pepper! The compound in pepper called "piperine" helps us absorb turmeric more efficiently. And, black pepper itself has health benefits, so you will be getting healthier by the minute.
Add a healthy fat source: Then, be sure to consume your turmeric with a fat source to aid its absorption. Healthy fat choices include nuts, seeds, avocado, and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).
Eat the spice. Skip the pills.
Curcumin supplements abound - still, you should get your turmeric and curcumin from the real source. Many studies have used large doses of curcumin, making it unrealistic to obtain that much through diet. I recommend using real turmeric in its fresh or dried powder form. It’s important to note that turmeric contains many health-promoting bioactives - not just curcumin. This is one reason to avoid supplements and eat the real thing!
And while you’re at it, mix in some other herbs and spices with turmeric to really up your nutritional game. Spices like rosemary and oregano contain potent antioxidants, so play around and find a combination you enjoy. I'm generally not a big fan of supplements, unless there is an outright nutrient deficiency or someone is at risk for one.
Using turmeric in its natural, whole-food form, whether its fresh or dried and powdered, is a nutritionally-richer and financially cheaper way to consume this healthy spice. Isolating a particular compound does not usually yield the same beneficial effects that eating or drinking the whole food or beverage does. This is one of the reasons why I talk about the synergistic effect of foods and beverages so often.
All of the wonderful compounds in foods, herbs, spices, and beverages work together to yield health benefits. So, when you add a health-promoting spice to you an ALREADY healthy food you’re simply stepping up your nutrition game to the max. And, in a really delicious way, too. What’s better than this?!
Overall, eating a wholesome diet rich in various herbs and spices - turmeric is surely one of them - is an excellent way to improve your health and prevent chronic disease, especially those stemming from chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
Healthy Tip: Below are a few foods to eat with turmeric. I personally started to add turmeric and curry powder to many, if not all, dishes - and it tastes AMAZING! Some curry powders contain both turmeric and black pepper - a total win win!
- Whole Grain dishes (farro, pasta, brown and wild rice, quinoa)
- Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
- Bean Burgers (homemade are the best!)
- Smoothies (yes, smoothies! Add a teeny bit of the fresh turmeric or a dash of powdered turmeric to your blender with some pitted medjool dates, mellow greens like spinach, and a fruit of choice such as mango or pineapple)
- Hummus (blend some chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic with turmeric for a gut microbiome-loving plant based spread).
So there you have it. Now you know that spices are an important part of a healthy diet and have good reason to add a dash of turmeric (you don’t have to go overboard - a pinch will do), to your diet! Healthy body, healthy life.
To know more go to Rachelle Cave's website.
If you enjoyed this article, please share with your friends and followers.
Disclaimer: The content in this article/blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician before starting a diet, exercise, or lifestyle regimen. This content is intended for educational purposes only.
About Rachelle Caves: Rachelle Caves is a well-experienced Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer. Her passion in life is helping individuals cultivate a life of health and wellness, in an encouraging and uplifting manner. Rachelle’s nutrition philosophy revolves around the health-promoting effects of a plant-based, phytonutrient-rich diet. With the goal of ultimate health and wellness, Rachelle emphasizes the protective benefits of a predominantly plant-based diet that excludes calorie-counting, while incorporating effective exercise and positive mind-body techniques. You can read more from her on her website.