Bored eating your greens? Start getting some turmeric in your diet!

You’d think that oxygen would be good for you…  Unfortunately, that’s  not always the case.  The ‘life giving’ oxygen which you breathe results in the inhalation of ‘free radicals’. No, they’re not some hippy band that your mum used to listen to!  rather, they are atoms with one odd, unpaired electron looking for a soulmate. Unfortunately, free radicals are not so good for important cellular components such as DNA or cellular membranes which, if combined, can lead to poor cellular function or death (of the cell).

One of our body’s defence mechanisms against free radicals is the use of antioxidants. Whilst the body can produce its own enzymes to combat the free radicals, our main source of micronutrients are vitamins C and E which we have to ingest as we don’t produce our own. However, due to our lifestyles and environments, most of us aren’t getting the required amount of vitamin rich, fresh fruit and veg we need.  That’s one reason why the World Health Organisation is pushing for the minimum of five fruit and vegetable portions every day.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to regular trips to the greengrocer to get your antioxidant fix. One spice which has long been known for its health benefits is turmeric. Containing the active compound, curcumin and commonly used in curries, this wonder spice has a rich golden yellow colour with an aroma like peppers and a sharp earthy taste.  The Journal of the American Chemical Society, cites Turmeric’s benefits including it’s source of a wide range of antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.  It also contains a lot of healthy nutrients such as vitamins C, E and K, as well as elements such as potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Take it with a pinch of black pepper and the piperine in that prevents the liver from working to remove the curcumin and therefore boosting the effect of the turmeric.

Other reported benefits of turmeric are:

A mood stabiliser:  tests have shown that ingestion of turmeric has reduced the highs and lows of moods in people suffering from anxiety.

Wound healing:  The curcumin in turmeric appears to soothe irritation and oxidation in wounds and thus accelerate healing.

Reduces inflammation:  The turmeric reduces the swelling which results in joint stiffness and thus reduces pain such as rheumatism and arthritis.

Balances blood sugar: Early research is showing promise with curcumin balancing blood sugars by affecting insulin producing cells within the pancreas.

Reduces cholesterol:  By reducing cholesterol levels, the risk of cardiovascular diseases are reduced.

Boosts immune system:  Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide which boosts the immune system resulting in fewer colds, ‘flu and coughs.  Turmeric is often mixed with a little warm milk and drunk by sufferers of these conditions.

 

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