Sitting cosily in your cupboard between the cumin and the cardonamon, turmeric is your best friend on a Saturday evening when it comes to whipping up a curry. However, it turns out that turmeric is much more than your curry-colouring staple. It is in fact bursting with potential health benefits. Used as a medicinal herb in India for decades, turmeric has been proven to reduce inflammation, is a great antioxidant and may even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Here’s why it should be given pride of place on your spice rack and thrown into your mid-week meals more often!
Containing over 20 anti-inflammatory compounds including curcumin,turmeric is great for those who suffer inflammation in the joints, especially their knees after exercise and also has been proven to reduce arthritic symptoms. In fact, new research has shown that curcumin may be as effective as some pharmaceutical drugs at reducing inflammation.* When it was fed to animals with arthritis in their knees it was more effective, in the early stages of arthritis, at reducing the inflammation than a pharmaceutical drug – great news for us runners!
May reduce the risk of heart attack
A 2012 study published by the peer-reviewed American Journal of Cardiology found that curcumins may reduce the risk of heart attack in those who have had recent bypass surgery. During surgery, the heart muscle can be damaged by lack of blood flow increasing the risk of heart attack yet curcumins proved to reduce these risks.
A great anti-oxidant
The compound curcumin is effective in neutralising ‘free radicals’ – the by-products of metabolism that can lead to diseases such as cancer.
May reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
According to Alzheimer’s Society, curcumin has been shown to break down amyloid-beta plaques (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease) in lab-based studies. Another chemical in turmeric that has been studied is turmerone. In animal studies tumerone has been shown to stimulate stem cells to make new brain cells, which in theory could help with neurodegenerative conditions. Though there is no real evidence that supports turmeric being a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, these findings suggest it could be a potential chemical for future research into developing future treatments.
A 2012 study found that carcumin seemed to prevent cases of type 2 diabetes amongst people who were at risk of the disease.
If you are not a fan of the flavour, turmeric can be taken as a supplement, often containing a high percent of the spice extract. Fito’s organic turmeric capsules for example contain 10,000 mg of the spice extract per capsule.