Thursday, February 10, 2011

Turmeric---An Endless List of Reasons to use More Often

Turmeric is an ingredient that is a MUST HAVE in indian or desi cooking. It is also used in several other types of cuisines in measured amounts. It is a root that belongs to the ginger family and can be used fresh or as a powder where it is boiled, dried in a clay oven and ground up.

Turmeric is commonly used in a powder form in many different types of dishes. In most indian cuisine it is used at the beginning of the cooking process and is allowed to fry in the concentrated mixture so as to release all its flavour and colour.

Turmeric can be bought at any indian, asian, international supermarket and comes in a closed package. After being brought home, it should me transferred to an airtight container and stored in a cool, dark place away from moisture. When using, care should be taken to not allow any humidity or moisture to enter the jar, thus making it keep longer. While cooking, care should also be taken to use with measure or as the recipe calls, otherwise, it can make your food bitter tasting.

That being said, I wish to leave you with an article adapted from http://hubpages.com concerning the health benefits that turmeric holds to be used as motivation to try to incorporate this ingredient a little more into your lifestyles.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC


The health benefits of turmeric are experienced daily by millions of people around the globe often without realising it. If you have ever eaten a curry then you have probably benefited from its properties. Turmeric is a spice used in Asian, African and Middle Eastern cookery. It is a daily staple in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines. It's also used as a food preservative and colouring worldwide especially in mustard, pickles, cheeses and margarines.
Recently turmeric has hit the headlines because of claims that curcumin, which is the main active constituent of turmeric, could help prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Turmeric has long been known as a spice which has a lot of health benefits in addition to its culinary uses. It is well-known as an anti-inflammatory which can work as well as some pharmaceutical products but without the side-effects.
Turmeric is a member of the Zingiberaceae family, its close relatives include cardamom, ginger and galangal, all of which have distinctive medical qualities of their own. It is cultivated mainly in India.

Curcumin capsules

© Hilly Chism 2009
Here are some of its other powerful health benefits.
Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and anti-bacterial spice and it can be used externally to help in the disinfecting of cuts or burns.  Many people suffering from acne inversa have found almost complete relief of their symptoms by drinking turmeric tea three times a day.
 In laboratory tests curcumin has been shown to assist in the prevention of prostate cancer, to prevent breast cancer from spreading into the lungs and to reduce certain types of melanoma.  There has also been research that suggests it may be helpful in reducing the risk of childhood leukaemia.  Curcumin has been defined by scientists in Japan as a broad spectrum anti cancer agent.
Turmeric is also very valuable for the way that it works on the digestive system and on the liver.  In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine it is used as a digestive bitter and a carminative.  Used in cooking it can help to improve digestion and can also help to reduce gas and bloating.  Turmeric is also a cholagogue which stimulates bile production in the liver and can help excrete bile through the gallbladder which aids the body's ability to digest fats.
Turmeric is recommended for people who have chronic digestive weakness or congestion.  It can be added to meals or taken as a tea or in a capsule 20 minutes before meals, especially meals that are high in fat or protein.  It can also be found in digestive bitters which combine turmeric with other herbs.  Turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory to the mucus membrane which coats the throat stomach and intestines where it can help decrease inflammation and congestion.  Other related conditions which it is suggested turmeric may help are colitis, Crohn's disease, diarrhoea and the after affects of food poisoning.  It can also be used to relieve the itching and inflammation of haemorrhoids and fissures.

Turmeric root powder

© Hilly Chism 2009
In Chinese culture turmeric has long been used as a treatment for depression and its effect of speeding up the metabolism suggests that it could well be helpful in weight management.
Turmeric (or its stronger extract curcumin) in its primary use in health, as an anti-inflammatory helps with reducing pain and inflammation in a multitude of ailments and diseases including arthritis, muscle and ligament pains, pain after operations, headaches, migraines, period pains etc. It does this without the side-effects of pharmaceutical products such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Although not confirmed yet in human trials, laboratory animals given turmeric had reduced levels of blood sugar and cholesterol suggesting that turmeric may in the future be helpful in diabetes and heart disease.
If not eaten regularly in your national cuisine you can add turmeric to your diet by taking turmeric supplements or curcumin supplements in the form of capsules, turmeric can also be taken in the form of a tea but on its own it is not to everyone's taste. A small amount of black pepper or bromelain is said to increase the absorption of the active ingredient curcumin considerably.
Recommended doses for adults
Between one to three grams a day for powdered root.
300-800 mg two or three times a day for a curcumin supplements.
Turmeric is a true superfood and one that you should think about introducing to your diet for its health benefit.
If you are suffering from any acute or chronic illness please consult your doctor before taking herbal supplements of any kind.


 

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