They don’t call turmeric the “superhero spice” for nothing. Its superpower? Curcumin.
While this powerful compound is found in other spices, it’s most abundant in turmeric, the thousands-year-old Indian yellow root used to season curries and other dishes around the globe. But, as science is discovering, flavor is just one of the many ways curcumin-packed turmeric spices up our lives for the better. Here are five reasons it’s a golden gem—in and out of the kitchen.
Studies have shown that curcumin works at a molecular level to prevent chronic joint inflammation and reduce the severity arthritic flare-ups by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and enzymes.
Curcumin offers double-duty antioxidative support in the body. Not only does it neutralize free radicals that can cause oxidative damage, but it can also increase production of the body’s antioxidant enzymes. This lessens the chance of cellular damage, and may enhance immunity.
Studies suggest that a shortage of the brain hormone BDNF (or brain-derived neuropathic factor) may be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease and depression. Because curcumin ups the levels of BDNF in the brain, getting more turmeric in your diet could help protect your mental health.
With more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, turmeric relieves more than just achy joints. In fact, the golden-hued spice can fight puffiness, acne, dryness, and even soothe eczema and psoriasis. Slather on this sunny yellow facial mask to experience turmeric’s rejuvenating powers firsthand.
Emerging research suggests that curcumin may help the body detect and destroy mutated tumor cells. While turmeric’s cancer-fighting potential isn’t fully understood yet, it’s interesting to note, says nutritionist Elissa Goodman, “in India, where turmeric is widely used in the diet, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers—colon, breast, prostate, and lung—is 10 times lower.”
As the list of turmeric’s potential benefits continues to grow (it might relieve menstrual cramps and alleviate toothaches) and researchers continue to explore its effects, why not add some to your diet? We suggest sprinkling Thrive Market Organic Ground Turmeric into savory dishes like an energizing lentil-quinoa bowl or yellow curry with rainbow veggies and letting this super spice works its magic.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho
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