What the heck is turmeric and why does it look like caterpillars?!


Turmeric is a root, from the same family as ginger. It is what gives curry it’s amazing yellow color. Just as a note, in case you are new-ish to these spices, curry is a blend of spices, it is not a single spice.

Turmeric has received much attention from scientists for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests turmeric has been shown to relieve symptoms of indigestion, IBS, and joint pain, along with other symptoms generally involving pain and inflammation. How does it do this? The active compound called curcumin is one of the heroes in those benefits.

Just as with all whole foods, we get many benefits from their compounds. The more whole foods we eat, and less processed and refined foods, the better we are going to feel as we reduce chronic inflammation and improve our anti-inflammatory processes.

Spices and herbs are amazing powerhouses. In very small amounts they have great benefits. And they add incredible flavour. Note that some spices get more attention mostly because there are lots studies on them, and turmeric is one of those spices. Other spices can be just as amazing, but they have not had the same amount of spot light, yet.

Ginger, garlic and onions make wonderful team mates for turmeric - put them all together and you’ve got a great tasting AND incredible anti-inflammatory dish!

I find myself adding turmeric (and curry) to many simple dishes, as they all add beneficial properties and a deeper level of flavour. Soups, chilli, stews, you name it! Honesty, I find turmeric itself does not change flavour much by itself, so it is great to add to most dishes and not impact them much. Curry however, does add a huge flavour bonus! Try them both to see for yourself.

So, how can you add this to your menu? It is really very simple.

I suggest you pick up the actual turmeric root and grate it into meals you are making. Start with a bit and work up. When can you add it to the dish? There are studies that measure the impacts of heating turmeric in the cooking process These studies shows heating degrades some nutrients but increase the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  It is also important to use pepper and healthy fats like coconut oil or olive oil, in your dish to help increase the absorption of the spice’s benefits.

One popular way to get more spices, like turmeric, into your day is with a simple homemade tea or ‘Golden Milk’. With the addition of the spices cinnamon and ginger, it is a great boost to your body’s immune and general health. With the cooler months coming up, it is a warm and yummy addition and kids love it too! It only takes about 5 minutes to make.

You can use dry spices, just make sure they are from a quality manufacturer. However, I try to buy the actual whole food source of these spices, which you can find at your local Quality Greens!

Looking for a simple recipe? Try this one for Ginger Turmeric Tea.

Lisa Aschenbrenner, RHN - Registered Holistic Nutritionist 

For more information please visit RealFoodForThought.ca

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