Turmeric is a very versatile, vividly colored spice with powerful antioxidant and health protective properties. It contains curcumin, a strong antioxidant chemical that detoxifies carcinogens and calms inflammation, protects against conditions like Alzheimer's, controls obesity, and many other conditions. With its many virtues, turmeric should form a regular addition to the diet.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It is the ingredient responsible for making curry and mustard yellow-orange in color, and is one of the most health-protective ingredients in a curry. Rhizomes, rootlike extensions from the stem of the plant, are the parts used to make turmeric powder, and are also used in making mustard, coloring butter or cheese, and flavoring various foods.
Turmeric contains important vitamins and minerals such as iron, manganese, potassium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. curcumin is a phytochemical found in turmeric which gives it its vivid golden color, and has strong antioxidant properties that have been well researched for its cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. Many spices would have excellent effects if they were not eaten in such small quantities. turmeric, however, is such a strong anti-inflammatory that even a small amount is enough to reduce the risk of illness.
A recent study from Tufts University found that curcumin from turmeric reduces weight gain and suppresses fat tissue in mice, and researchers concluded that "Our findings suggest that dietary curcumin may have a potential benefit in preventing obesity."
The study also found that the mice showed lower blood cholesterol levels and lower fat in the liver.
Dementia and Alzheimer's
Many studies, including several recent studies, have found associations between curcumin and reducing the risk of types of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease.
One study found that diets rich in the turmeric extract helped dissolve amyloid protein plaques in the brain of mice that are believed to cause dementia, and also helped to prevent development of new plaques.
Another study confirmed that curcumin significantly lowers oxidized proteins and inflammatory cytokines associated with Alzheimer's. Elderly people who ate curry at least once a month scored better on tests to measure cognitive function than those who reported they ate curry less frequently.
In a rat study, supplementation with curcumin was found to counteract the oxidative damage and cognitive impairment encountered in the injured brain.
In an animal study, turmeric was shown to reduce skin tumor size by thirty percent and skin tumor occurrence by eighty-seven percent compared to the control group.
A study from the University of Texas MD Anderson cancer Center, treated three melanoma cell lines with curcumin. Cell growth was inhibited and increased tumor cell death was observed.
Researchers found that curcumin inhibited metastasis to the lungs of mice with breast cancer. The researchers also found that curcumin helps make taxol, a chemotherapeutic drug for breast cancer, less toxic, and more effective.
In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that curcumin reduces the expression of prostate cancer genes, tumor volume and quantity of nodules in treated groups.
In a small study, patients who had precancerous polyps were treated with curcumin for six months. The average number of polyps dropped sixty percent, and the average size dropped by fifty percent.
Tips on Using Turmeric
- Choose fresh turmeric roots that have a strong spicy fragrance. If buying in powdered form, buy in small quantities to ensure maximum freshness.
- Be careful when preparing turmeric - it will stain your hands and clothing.
- Use ground turmeric in curries, stews, soups, and rice dishes to add flavor and color.
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