by SUSAN BOYOUNG BAILEY SCHABACKER
Like ginger, turmeric is another super spice prized for its health benefits with a long history of use in traditional medicine.
Like Indian curry? If so, you’ve enjoyed turmeric which is worth its value in gold and has earned its spotlight status. Turmeric is known for bountiful benefits of curcumin with natural antioxidant boosting and anti-inflammatory properties and potential prevention of chronic illnesses and diseases. It’s the curcumin in turmeric that makes it vibrant yellow and offers a multitude of health benefits.
Turmeric is most potent and effective in higher dosages with supplementation but is still beneficial to your health in other forms. To maximize bioavailability, consume turmeric in combination with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine, which, when added to turmeric, increases absorption of curcumin up to 2,000%.
Backed by multiple research studies, turmeric helps prevent and treat heart disease. Curcumin lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial function. A research study on post-menopausal women undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery found turmeric (4 grams of curcumin daily) to be as effective as exercise in decreasing the group’s heart attack risk by 65% when in the hospital.
Numerous studies note curcumin’s cancer-combatting properties. Found to inhibit the growth and development of cancer cells, reduce metastasis and angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), curcumin has been effective in the prevention of cancers, especially digestive system cancers like colorectal cancer.
Ample in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, turmeric has been found to alleviate pain, including chronic pain. It may also be effective in treating chronic conditions caused by inflammation such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and pancreatitis. In adequate dosages, curcumin has proven more effective than some commonly used pain alleviating anti-inflammatory medications like Advil and aspirin.
Also, known for boosting memory and improving attention, turmeric may be effective in prolonging – or even reversing – age-related cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Though there isn’t yet a cure, medical and scientific research continues on and good news lies with curcumin’s capability of crossing the blood-brain barrier. Curcumin is known to improve inflammation and repair oxidative damage which are both factors in Alzheimer’s. Also, curcumin helps clear up amyloid plaques and protein tangles characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
Another potential brain-boosting benefit of curcumin is its positive effect on depression. Imagine banishing the blues and woes of depression without expensive and often side-effect-inducing medications like Prozac. A 6-week study which compared the effects of Prozac and 1 gram of curcumin concluded that curcumin’s treatment of depression was comparable to that of an antidepressant. Excitingly, there’s current evidence that curcumin can boost the neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin and dopamine.
GREEN TEA-ALICIOUS AND TROPICAL JAMU
Mix up a jamu and join today’s all-the-rage health drink trend. This fruit-alicous smoothie style is a variation on a centuries old Indonesian immune-boosting drink that includes turmeric, ginger, honey, and lemon or lime. All other ingredients are optional. It takes only a few minutes and this pick-me-up will be your go-to drink for tummy aches, hot flashes, or the onset of a cold.
- 1 cup fresh turmeric, cleaned and chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh ginger, cleaned and chopped
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced, or ¾ cup mango puree (optional)
- ¾ cup raw spinach or kale (optional)
- 2 cups green tea, chai, white tea, or yerba mate + 2-3 tablespoons matcha powder (optional)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice (2 to 3 lemons or limes)
- 1-2 tablespoons maca, spirulina, or other healthy powder (optional)
- 3 teaspoons flax meal or chia seeds (optional)
- 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon powder (optional)
- 4-5 dashes ground black pepper (to activate the curcumin in turmeric and add a flavor kick)
For a smoothie, simply mix together in a blender. Be creative and add in other fruits, veggies, juices, and/or healthy powders.
Santé, skol, and salud (in French, Scandinavian, and Spanish), and cheers, as you sip and savor this traditional health-boosting Indonesian beverage.