Turmeric is a yellow coloured spice that is added to asian cooking, particularly curries. It contains a phytochemical called curcumin that has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammation, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Numerous studies have indicated that as well as being non-toxic to humans, it exhibits strong anti-inflammation role due to its inhibition of molecules involved in inflammation. It also helps to reduce the development of blood clumpts and is thus helpful against heart disease.
Curcumin also inhibits Helicobacter pylori which is tied to the development of gastric ulcers.
As well as the above characteristics, curcumin also functions as a metal chelator, being able to bind to heavy metals such as lead and cadmium and lowering the toxicity of these metals. For this reason curcumin is said to be protective of the brain. Studies in the University of California have shown that curcumin plays a role in slowing down degenerative disease and could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
As well as reducing the build up of knots in the brain, it also showed other health benefits such as aiding digestion, fighting infection and reducing heart attacks.
The following is a summary of the potential benefits of curcumin that are shown by current scientific research:
In a review paper published in Volume 87 of Current Science, the authors documented the following activities of curcumin from current research literature:
- Beneficial effect on the stomach
- Protects rom mycardial infaction damage
- Protection of the nervous system
- Anti-inflammation activity
- antioxidant effects
- Anticarcinogenic effect - inducing apoptosis (killing of cancer cells)
- Anticoagulant activity
- Antifertility activity
- Antidiabetic effect
- antibacterial activity
- antifungal effect
- antiviral effect
As you can see, this is quite an impressive list for an ingredient of the popular curry dish.
Now you must not assume from this that "curries are good for you", its the curcumin in the turmeric that's good for you, not oily, spicy, hot, red meat curries from Indian takeaways.
You can make use of the easily available turmeric by sprinkling the powder over appropriate food at the time of consumption.