Spices do more than enhance the flavor of your favorite dishes. They can also enhance your health and help you live longer. One of the brightest longevity stars in your kitchen spice rack is turmeric.
This vivid yellow spice—a relative of ginger that’s found in curry powder—is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from the harmful effects of free radicals (cancer causing agents). It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory, working to calm chronic inflammation in the body often caused by stress, poor diet and lack of exercise. Both free-radical damage and ongoing inflammation are believed to underlie many diseases of aging, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
Turmeric’s key healing component is curcumin. Research shows many curcumin benefits. For example, it’s been shown to block the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, sticky substances that cause Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin also shows promise as a cancer fighter, helping to prevent and shrink several types of tumors in animals, including breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Human studies are just ramping up, but early results suggest similar benefits in people.
Another recent study found that curcumin supplements relieve the pain, swelling and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis better than NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)—and with fewer side effects.
In addition, curcumin is being studied for use against osteoporosis, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and several other conditions.
Of course, turmeric alone won’t keep you young. You also need plenty of exercise, healthy foods and time to nurture your emotional and spiritual growth. Adding more of this pungent spice to your diet can contribute to a longer, healthier, disease-free life.
Spice up your life
- Eat plenty of curried Indian and Asian dishes.
- Sprinkle ground turmeric or fresh turmeric root (available at specialty food stores) into any soup, stew and other favorite recipe for a flavorful zing.
- Try turmeric tea. Buy packaged tea bags or make your own by boiling water and adding a teaspoon of ground turmeric. Simmer, strain, and add milk, honey or lemon.
- If you’re not crazy about turmeric’s peppery ginger taste, take a turmeric or curcumin supplement (check your local health food store).
By Sidney Stevens