4 Reasons to Try Turmeric
Turmeric is on trend. From turmeric lattes to burgers and cakes, the bright yellow spice is as popular as it is allegedly powerful. But what exactly are the reported health benefits of turmeric?
What is turmeric?
Let’s begin with the basics. Turmeric, part of the ginger family, is a root found in Indian and South Asia. Fragrant and a little bitter, the spice is commonly used in curries.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has also been used for eons to treat different medical conditions and ailments.
It contains curcumin, an active compound that some studies suggest could help fight disease and prevent other problems.
Health benefits of turmeric
There are several reported health benefits of turmeric. Here are a few to consider:
- Improves digestion: A University of Maryland Medical Center study found that curcumin in turmeric may stimulate the gallbladder to make more bile. This can help ease bloating, gas and other digestive problems. But because it increases stomach acidity, it should be avoided if you have a stomach ulcer.
- Reduce cholesterol: Another University of Maryland Medical Center study found the spice could also reduce cholesterol levels and avoid atherosclerosis, a condition whereby lipoprotein collects in the arteries.
- Ease inflammation: Early research has found turmeric might ease inflammation, to guard the body against disease including heart disease and some cancers.
- Boost immunity: A recent study also indicated turmeric might boost the body’s natural defence system, fighting free radical damage.
But is turmeric really beneficial?
For now, we might need to take these reported benefits with a grain of, err, turmeric. A new scientific review of studies on curcumin has thrown into question its reported benefits.
Published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the review found that news reports didn’t accurately depict the spice’s limited properties.
“Once something enters the popular press, it can be blown out of proportion,” said co-author Michael Walters from the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development.
“These studies have become a part of folklore, and their actual results don’t really measure up to what they’re quoted as.”
The review reports that curcumin isn’t easily absorbed by the body. The research team also wasn’t able to pinpoint adequate studies (trials that are double-blind and placebo-controlled) to substantiate claims.
Of course, that doesn’t mean turmeric has zero health benefits. Nutritionists and dieticians (including one who was involved in the review)
say it’s all about incorporating turmeric as part of a healthy, balanced diet – rather than focusing on one ingredient alone.
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