Turmeric: Spice Up Your Health

Turmeric, a vibrant yellow-orange spice well-known for its use in curry, is now a health trend. Often included in products like wellness shots and smoothies, turmeric is also lauded as  an “anti-inflammatory.” Where does this spice come from, and are its benefits well-founded?

A root from the same family as ginger, turmeric has a similar earthiness in its taste with less zing. The root grows in areas of Southeast Asia and South America, but it is most popular in its origin country of India. Turmeric gets its notorious vibrancy from a chemical within the root called curcumin. Curcumin is the most active ingredient in the spice, responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Photo by Daniel Sarché

Turmeric can offer an alternative to commonly consumed modern medicine. PBS.org says, “Curcumin has significant anti-inflammatory properties that are said to rival those found in ibuprofen. Unlike over-the-counter drugs, turmeric has no toxic effects on the body.” This isn’t shocking — the turmeric root has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years, beginning in ancient India.

Healthy hint: there is a way to consume turmeric and reap maximum benefits from it. Mixing turmeric with black pepper assists in the absorption of curcumin in the bloodstream. This is because black pepper contains a compound called piperine. When piperine is combined with curcumin, it further restrains the metabolic breakdown of curcumin in the liver, allowing the healthy properties to remain in the body and work their magic.

Turmeric can be consumed in a bevy of ways. Sprinkling turmeric and a dash of black pepper into food is an easy way to extract the benefits without drastically altering a dish’s flavor. You can buy the root as a whole and chop small pieces into a smoothie. Or, craft a DIY wellness shot, including a dash of turmeric, a sprinkle of black pepper, lemon juice, and water. There is a wide variety of ways to get creative with the curcumin-piperine power couple; spice things up and give them a try. 

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