6 Ways to Use Turmeric to Boost Your Health
How this ancient spice may help reduce inflammation, benefit your heart, and more.
Turmeric is an ancient spice known for its vibrant golden color. It comes from a flowering plant with a root-like stem that looks like ginger. Turmeric has long been a staple in Indian, Asian, and Central American cuisines, especially in curries. It’s commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines to treat digestive issues, liver problems, skin conditions, and wounds. In fact, it has been used medicinally for more than 4,500 years.
With a growing body of recent studies touting the potential health benefits of curcumin — the compound that gives turmeric its bright hue — the spice is surging in popularity.
While more studies are necessary, preliminary research suggests that turmeric may offer numerous health benefits.
Research indicates that turmeric, in various topical, capsule, or essential oil forms, may benefit heart health and may help reduce inflammation and ease the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some research suggests it may help with digestive issues, prevent relapses of ulcerative colitis, and act as a mood booster for people with major depression. It may also protect against some skin conditions, according to a systematic review of studies published in August 2016 in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
There’s good news for people with prediabetes and diabetes, too. Turmeric may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels, according to a review published in October 2016 in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. It may also help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to experts at the American Diabetes Association.
Americans tend to use turmeric most often in its powdered spice form, but the root can be grated and used in recipes just like fresh ginger. Keep in mind that the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin may be enhanced if you consume turmeric with black pepper.
Tips for Reaping the Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Go classic with curry. Turmeric is a key ingredient in yellow curries. Make Bon Appétit’s Coconut Chicken Curry with Turmeric and Lemongrass or try the Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Curry Soup from EatingWell.
- Spice up your lentils. Dal tadka is a popular yellow lentil dish commonly served in Indian restaurants. This north Indian–style dal tadka dish from Veg Recipes of India is full of flavor. Serve it with steamed basmati rice.
- Make a rub. Mix powdered turmeric with ground cumin, ground ginger, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper, and then rub it on beef, lamb, chicken, fish, or tofu before grilling.
- Eat it with eggs. Turmeric can be a tasty addition to an omelet, a frittata, quiche, or scrambled eggs. Speaking of scrambles, try adding turmeric to a tofu scramble to give it a little boost of color and flavor.
- Add it to roasted root veggies. Tossing some grated or powdered turmeric in with potatoes, squash, parsnips, or carrots before roasting can add an earthy, peppery flavor.
- Sip some “golden” milk. Warm a cup of milk in a saucepan with ½ teaspoon (tsp) of turmeric powder (or 1 ½ tsp of freshly grated turmeric) and 1 tsp freshly grated ginger. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, strain, and stir in a tablespoon of honey or agave nectar.