Before modern drug-based medicine became the norm, people relied on homemade remedies, such as herbs and spices, for their health. Herbs and spices have become vastly popular recently, as they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that promote healing and wellness.
One example of a spice that has become highly valued today is turmeric. This bright yellow spice adds a delicious peppery flavor to curry dishes, especially in India and other Asian countries. It can also be used to make turmeric tea.
Turmeric is loaded with curcumin, a polyphenol that has over 150 therapeutic activities. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its attractive bright-yellow color. Today, researchers are studying curcumin’s potential effects on human health.
Spice Up Your Food with Turmeric
One of the simplest ways to benefit from turmeric’s healthful qualities is to add it to your cooking. Try these easy ideas:
- Add a few sprinkles of turmeric powder to any curry dish to enhance its flavor. Indonesian rendang (a coconut-infused beef stew), northern Indian curries, and Thai-style yellow curries contain turmeric. It is better (and healthier) to use high-quality turmeric powder.
- Improve the taste of your stews, soups, and vegetable stir-fry with a pinch of turmeric. You can even add it to your poached egg, along with Himalayan salt, for more flavor.
- Try mixing a teaspoon of turmeric powder in your tomato-based sauces to create more complex flavors. The sweet tanginess of the tomatoes will be enhanced by turmeric’s earthy bitterness.
However, you must remember to use only a high-quality, preferably organic turmeric powder, as it tends to have a higher curcumin content.
The only disadvantage of taking turmeric in food form (even one that’s high-quality) is that your body does not absorb the curcumin well. In fact, if you take turmeric orally, most of the curcumin will pass through your system.
Taking a turmeric or curcumin supplement may be a more practical option.
What to Look for in a Turmeric or Curcumin Supplement
Choosing a potent and high-quality turmeric or curcumin supplement isn’t easy, especially with the many supplement makers that provide cheap, inefficient, and even potentially dangerous products.
Case in point: In 2009, two turmeric food supplement brands, Fortodol and Leppin Miradin, were recalledafter the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that they contained the prohibited drug nimesulide. This drug has been linked to liver problems and even liver failure, and has been banned in countries like Spain, Turkey, and Finland.
How will you know which supplement is safe and will work for you best? Here’s a quick checklist you should keep in mind:
- Comes from a high-quality, certified organic manufacturer that uses safe production practices.
- Only contains 100 percent certified organic ingredients. Look for a turmeric extract or curcumin supplement with at least 95 percent curcuminoids.
- Free of fillers, excipients, and additives. Keep an eye out for questionable ingredients listed on the label.
- Uses a vegetable capsule, not a gelatin-based capsule
Look at the Turmeric’s Color, Too!
Aside from the criteria mentioned above, you can also determine the potency of a curcumin supplement or turmeric extract by its color. A high-quality organic product with a bright-yellow orange color signifies high levels of curcuminoids.
Therefore, if you select a turmeric product with a dark color or lacking in brightness, it may mean that the curcuminoids have been removed or that it is not fresh.
However, this is not always an accurate predictor of potency, as there are deceitful vendors that add synthetic dye to low-quality turmeric to pass it off as a high-quality product. This is why you should only purchase organic turmeric or curcumin from a trusted, certified organic manufacturer.
Kellie Chew is researching herbs and spices, such as curcumin and turmeric. She believes that if used correctly, these potent natural foods can be a wonderful addition to your health strategy. She reads various natural health resources, such as Dr. Mercola’s website, to learn more about this topic.