The turmeric is a spice from a thousand beneficial properties : antioxidant, anti-inflammatory , helps previenire heart disease and degenerative diseases . Here’s where turmeric comes from, what its properties are and the best uses in cooking.
Turmeric: what is it
The Turmeric longa is a herbaceous plant of the Zingiberaceae family (the same family which also includes ginger and cardamom ) also known as the indie saffron. Spice widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine, in recent years it has achieved great notoriety throughout the West as well.
In addition, the plant can reach one meter in height and has very large leaves and yellow flowers.
The yellow powder, known as turmeric, comes from the rhizome, the stem of the plant that grows underground, cylindrical in shape and orange in color. Therefore, many properties are recognized in this spice, all connected to the high concentration of antioxidants that characterize this spice, able to counteract the action of free radicals and the consequent oxidative stress.
Turmeric Properties and benefits
The main biologically active component is curcumin , a yellow-orange pigment responsible for the warm and bright color of this precious spice . In fact, curcumin, from a chemical and nutritional point of view , is classified as a polyphenol . Furthermore, clinical research carried out in recent years confirms its remarkable properties. In particular, those scientifically proven and accepted by the scientific community are:
- anti-inflammatory properties
- antioxidant properties.
These properties must always be considered in light of the low bioavailability of curcumin , which is characteristic of all polyphenols. That said, the scientific community has demonstrated the great potential of this component , especially related to its anti-inflammatory power.
Turmeric in oncology
According to what the Veronesi Foundation reports regarding the validity of curcumin in the oncology field, “from numerous in vivo studies it emerged that curcumin can inhibit the production of nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species and act as a” scavenger “in the presence of metals such as copper, manganese and iron “.
Furthermore, it is another important aspect to consider, if we consider that oxidative stress plays a leading role in the growth and progression of various diseases such as:
- neurological and cardiovascular pathologies.
However, when it comes to the link between turmeric and cancer, it is still wise to be cautious. Despite the many scientific studies showing a positive link between the use of this spice and slowing of tumor development, it is good to consider that its positive effect is always and only linked to its two scientifically proven properties we have talked about, namely the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ones.
Furthermore, according to what the Veronesi Foundation reports , turmeric seems to affect the modulation of the inflammatory state that causes many diseases such as:
- cardiovascular disorders.
In fact, all these studies bode well and lead research to focus and continue to investigate the beneficial effects of this spice.
A valid help against neurovegetative diseases
In this spice, there is also another bioactive compound, the aromatic turmerone.
This substance, according to numerous important scientific studies , promotes neurogenesis , that is the production of new nerve cells capable of counteracting the oxidative stress induced by free radicals, thus representing a defense in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s .
In fact, both of these pathologies are due to the death of nerve cells in certain areas of the brain. One of the most important research, published by the British Journal of Nutrition has shown how, although the aromatic tumerone does not act in any way on cell death, it stimulates the proliferation of neuronal stem cells well over 50%, electing turmeric and in particular the its two bioactive compounds, curcumin and aromatic tumerone, to drugs of the future for neurodegenerative diseases .
Uses in Ayurvedic medicine
According to Ayurvedic medicine , it has a hepatic protective action. In fact, it has always been used to ensure proper functioning of the liver , to promote digestion and to counteract menstrual pain.
Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory power makes it particularly suitable against:
- muscle aches
- disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Furthermore, the choleretic-cholagogue properties favor the production of bile and its outflow from the intestine, thus protecting the liver and automatically bringing important benefits to the body .
In particular, this spice:
- helps to counteract cholesterol
- stimulates the metabolism
- helps digestion.
Nutritional values of turmeric
Nutritional values for 100 grams of ground turmeric:
How much and how to take turmeric
Despite its countless scientifically proven properties, curcumin’s Achilles heel is its poor bioavailability .
In fact, the body does not easily assimilate this bioactive compound. However, there are associations with other foods or spices that make it more easily assimilated.
Turmeric, pepper and oil to benefit from all the properties
The most suitable combinations are mainly two:
- with a fat such as extra virgin olive oil.
In fact, a small amount is enough to benefit from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties , but it is necessary to have consistency.
Hence, the best way to get benefits is regular consumption . in this way, you have the opportunity to enjoy its valuable positive effects.
To introduce turmeric into your diet , the best way is to use it daily to flavor dishes.
In fact, you can indulge yourself and try to use it in salads, main courses or soups . Furthermore, this will also help you to decrease the use of salt, the excessive consumption of which causes water retention and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
The recommended dose is about 1 tablespoon per day. The ideal is to use this raw spice , or add it only after cooking, so as not to disperse the nutrients.
Turmeric is a real panacea for the body, the important thing is not to exceed the recommended doses.
In fact, scientific research has shown that there don’t seem to be any side effects if you don’t exceed 12g per day.
However, it is not recommended for all people with liver diseases . Specifically, it is contraindicated in case of:
- people taking anticoagulants and insulin.
Alternative uses: turmeric beauty elixir
Turmeric is also widely used for skin care . Indian women use turmeric for countless aesthetic purposes, to cure:
- skin irritations
Get rid of unwanted hair
By combining turmeric with chickpea flour or other natural ingredients, a prodigious paste is obtained for the elimination of unwanted hair.
It is an oriental technique that aims to weaken the hair and reduce its presence in the long term.
It is mainly used for unwanted facial hair, which is weaker and thinner than that present in the rest of the body. In fact, the result seems guaranteed only if you are very constant over time with the application of the homemade preparation. Constancy that is needed with all the natural products that do not have active chemical components.
Chickpeas and turmeric, allies against wrinkles
The chickpea flour and turmeric are also used together to prepare anti-wrinkle masks, given the strong antioxidant properties of this spice . In fact, this mask used constantly seems to be beneficial for the brightness of the skin and for the smoothing of small expression lines.
You can make it simply by mixing 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour and a pinch of turmeric. Apply the paste obtained on your face and keep it on for 10 minutes. If it dries before the shutter speed has expired, just moisten it.
Oleolito, to fight dermatitis
turmeric oleolito is a vegetable oil prepared with the turmeric powder and widely used in natural cosmetics.
It is often used with excellent results for the treatment of dermatitis, dry skin, cracking, phosphorus and to smooth out expression lines.
Furthermore, turmeric releases and activates all its properties when it is combined with pepper or a fat: the principle of the oleolite is the same.
- 250ml sesame oil (choose organic, cold pressed)
- 3 tablespoons of turmeric
- a few drops of essential oil to perfume.
Apply a few drops on the area to be treated for dermatitis, for wrinkles use it as a face serum: a few drops are enough before the usual cream.
Turmeric to combat sore throats
The Turmeric together with honey , a natural antibiotic , gives us additional beneficial properties . Taking advantage of the anti – inflammatory action of both, it can be used for:
- dry cough
- sore throat.
To experiment with the combination of these two ingredients, you can also try making turmeric candies at home.
With turmeric, honey, lemon and ginger , 100% natural sweets against sore throats are prepared. One or two a day will help calm acute coughing fits and relieve pain and inflammation. And they are also light, compatible with the diet.
Turmeric: uses in cooking
The turmeric is a spice widely used in the kitchen , not only to flavor soups and risottos.
In addition, it is also used to color egg-free dishes. For example, the preparation of shortcrust pastry without eggs to which just add half a teaspoon of turmeric to give the typical golden color of the egg.
Discover our recipes with turmeric.
1 – Golden milk with turmeric
Calories for 1 person: 220
Ingredients for 1 person
For the turmeric paste
- 1/4 cup organic turmeric powder (about 30 g)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup plain water
- 1 glass container.
For the golden milk
- 125 ml cow’s milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp turmeric paste
- 1 tablespoon honey.
Find out how to make golden milk .
2 – Steamed rice with turmeric and vegetables
Total calories 1840 / Calories per person 460
Ingredients for 4 people
- 320 g basmati rice
- 1 large carrot
- 2 celery stalks
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 savoy cabbage
- turmeric 2 tbsp
- extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
- water 2 tbsp
- flavored salt to taste
Peel the carrots and wash them with the other vegetables.
Cut them not too small and transfer them to a bowl.
Add the rice, turmeric, flavored salt (or alternatively salt, a sprig of chopped sage and rosemary with a clove of garlic) and 2 tablespoons of water.
Mix all the ingredients and let it rest for half an hour.
In the meantime, prepare a pan with a finger of water and place the steamer on top.
Add the rice, turn on the smallest fire and let it cook on low.
Seal the edges of the pan by spreading a clean cloth over them or use silver paper and cover with the lid: the steam must not escape.
Cook for about half an hour and then check that there is still water in the bottom of the pot, otherwise add it.
Stir the rice a little and cook for another half hour.
Check the cooking and, if okay, serve.
3 – Cream of chickpeas and prawns
Calories per person: 275
Ingredients for 1 person
- 40 g dried chickpeas
- 80 g prawns cleaned with the tail
- 15 g Modena PDO ham
- extra virgin olive oil 5 ml
- onions 1/2
- 1/2 carrots
- iodized salt to taste
- lemon juice to taste
- turmeric to taste
- black pepper to taste
- aromatic herbs to taste
Soak the chickpeas in lemon juice *. Drain the chickpeas and cook them in water for about 40 – 50 minutes. In a pan, brown the onion with the carrots. Blend the cooked chickpeas with the browned vegetables, turmeric, black pepper, salt and half of the oil.
Wrap the prawn tails with the very finely chopped ham. Brown the prawns in a non-stick pan with the remaining oil for 30 seconds on each side.
Compose the dish with the chickpea cream at the base and the browned prawns on top. Garnish with herbs to taste.
Chickpeas are rich in B vitamins, the vitamins that help us keep the shape because they facilitate the transformation of food into energy. But these vitamins are easily dispersed in water. The addition of lemon juice increases the retention of B vitamins at the end of cooking, without affecting the taste.