Turmeric is a spice that is bright yellow-orange, primarily used in sauces and curries. It is found in turmeric root. The spice is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and medicinal properties.
The most popular way of consuming turmeric is making turmeric tea. Turmeric on its own cannot be absorbed well into the bloodstream. That’s why it’s used alongside black pepper, curries, sauces, or tea.
Turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids. The most active is called curcumin; it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong antioxidant.
Turmeric is sometimes called the golden spice or Indian saffron; it mainly grows in Central America and Asia.
Because of its bright yellow color, many cultures use turmeric as a dye.
The commercial products of turmeric available include teas, capsules, powders, and extracts.
Below are some of the benefits of turmeric.
Compounds in Turmeric has Medicinal Properties
Some studies show that curcumin, a compound in turmeric, helps improve the function of endothelial.
Low endothelial function is linked to increased risks of heart disease and aging. Thus curcumin helps reduce chances of developing heart disease and protects against age-related loss function.
It also helps improve the health of a thin membrane that covers the inside part of blood vessels and the heart. The membrane helps regulate blood pressure.
However, the content of curcumin in turmeric isn’t that high. So most studies use turmeric extracts with curcumin itself, with doses exceeding 1 gram per day.
It’s often hard to reach such levels of curcumin by just using turmeric as spices in foods. So people opt to use curcumin supplements.
Curcumin is poorly absorbed in the bloodstream. To get the full effects of curcumin, it’s best to consume it with black pepper. Black pepper contains piperine which is a natural substance that helps in the absorption of curcumin. Curcumin supplements contain piperine.
Curcumin can break down and dissolve in oil or fat, meaning it’s fat-soluble. Thus it’s best to take foods that are high in fat with curcumin supplements.
Increase Antioxidants in the Body
One of the mechanisms causing aging and many diseases are oxidation damage. It entails high reactive molecules with unpaired electrons, free radicals. These free radicals are highly reactive to react with useful organic substances like proteins, fatty acids, or even DNA.
Antioxidants help protect the body from these free radicals. Curcumin from turmeric, due to its structure, is an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals.
Other studies show that curcumin helps block the reaction of free radicals and may revive the actions of other antioxidants. Although this is in animals, further studies are needed to confirm such benefits in humans.
Turmeric May Boost Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
In the past, scientists believed that neurons could not divide and multiply after childhood. But, that wasn’t the case.
Neurons can form new connections and multiply. In certain parts of the brain, they can grow and increase in number.
One of the things that help them do so is the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This gene makes proteins able to boost the life of neurons.
The BDNF protein can be found in parts of the brain responsible for drinking, eating, and body weight. It’s essential for memory and learning.
Increasing BDNF brain levels may help in reversing or delaying some brain diseases and decreasing age-related brain function. Since these studies were conducted on animals, it’s hard to conclude the same effects in humans.
Curcumin helps improve attention and memory. This can be the case because of its effect on BDNF levels, although more research is needed to back that up.
Turmeric Might Lower Risks of Heart Diseases
Heart disease remains to be the number one leading cause of death in the world. Heart disease is very complicated and is contributed by various things.
According to some research, curcumin may help reverse some steps in the heart disease process. Curcumin mainly helps improve the function of the endothelium, the thin layer covering the heart and blood vessels.
The dysfunction of endothelium is a major factor leading to heart disease. This happens when it’s unable to regulate blood clotting, blood pressure, and other such factors.
Several studies found that curcumin helps improve heart health. They found that it’s as effective as regular exercises.
Curcumin also helps reduce oxidation and inflammation, which are some of the drivers of heart disease.
In a study among patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery, the researchers prescribed either a placebo or 4 grams of curcumin per day for a few days before and after surgery. The group taking curcumin had decreased the risk of heart attack by 65%.
This was an indication that curcumin, a compound of turmeric, can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Turmeric May Prevent Certain Cancers
Cancer is an illness identified by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Curcumin supplements have been proven to affect different forms of cancer.
Curcumin has been identified as a helpful herb in treating cancer. It affects the growth and development of cancer.
Research shows that curcumin helps kill cancerous cells, reduce the spread of cancer, and prevent the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
There is evidence that curcumin can help prevent cancer from occurring, especially cancers in the digestive system. This is effective when it’s taken in high doses and along with absorption enhancers like piperine.
In a 30-day study conducted in men with lesions in the colon, which likely turn to cancer, the introduction of 4 grams of curcumin each day portrayed a reduction of the number of lesions by 40%.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric has many health benefits due to compounds such as curcumin which has endless benefits in the body.
To reap the full benefits of curcumin, it should be combined with piperine, which helps absorb the curcumin in the body. Piperine is found in black pepper, so a combination of turmeric and black pepper yields the best results.