Spice up your health with turmeric

Jul 2, 2008 at 11:49 a.m. ET

Already renowned as a "super spice" for its high-antioxidant count, there are now even more reasons to add a dash of turmeric to your dishes.


The health benefits of turmeric

Hoping to avoid diabetes? Try turmeric. The same goes if you want to reduce your risk of such ailments as heart disease, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and some cancers. Hailing from India, this bright yellow spice is in high-demand across the country. And rightfully so. Not only does turmeric add a tasty bite to curry and other dishes, it is considered a super food that comes with many health benefits. Here's more about this scintillating yellow spice.


According to a study released in late June by researchers at Columbia University in New York, turmeric could play an important role in preventing type 2 diabetes. After observing obese mice fed with turmeric, scientists noted a significant reduction of insulin resistance and inflammation in fat tissue and liver, both positive steps in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Plus, the study says that consuming about a teaspoon of turmeric a day can bring about significant weight loss, even without dieting.


But diabetes isn't the only ailment that can be treated (and prevented) with turmeric. For centuries, the spice has been used in India to reduce inflammation, heal wounds and relieve pain. This is especially true for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, according to a recently completed study at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Thanks to curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components, the researchers say turmeric may treat the joint inflammation, stiffness, and swelling brought about by arthritis.


Like many other ingredients with antioxidant actions, turmeric may reduce your risk of cancer. The magical curcumin is known to thwart cancer cells and protect the body from developing the disease. In fact, people whose diets are rich in turmeric have lower rates of breast cancer as well as prostate, lung and colon cancers.

In addition, the spice blocks the formation of the plaque that promotes Alzheimer's disease, as evidenced by the extraordinarily low rate of Alzheimer's among elderly villagers in India who eat turmeric with almost every meal.


So, how can you up your turmeric intake? Go for foods flavored with the spice, like Cumin and Coriander-Crusted Leg of Lamb or Healthy Chicken Pot Pie. You can also sprinkle it onto your eggs or prepare a cup of turmeric tea. Or, you can opt for a supplement, like New Chapter's Turmericforce.

And for more about antioxidant-packed (and good-for-you!) foods, check out these links:

The health benefits of chia seed

The benefits of beta-carotene

New super fruits to look for at your grocery store