Turmeric is amazing.
As we discovered together last week, it is scientifically proven to fight fatigue, heart and cardiovascular conditions, various cancers, inflammation, immune system issues and more.
It will change your life and you can start using it TODAY for huge energy benefits (and we’ll get onto that in just a minute)…
Now, while the science and research I presented in my post last week – 10 Scientifically Proven Benefits to Turmeric – makes the benefits of turmeric irrefutable…it has raised a lot of PRACTICAL questions:
- What is turmeric
- Where do I find it
- How do I cook with it
- Can I take a supplement instead
- How much do I need
- …and so on.
In this guide I’m going to answer those questions and more for you in what is really my Turmeric 101.
Turmeric User Guide: How to Make Turmeric Part of Your Everyday Life
WHAT IS TURMERIC?
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and looks a little bit like a knobbly old finger from a witch in a kids book.
Or more accurately, it looks like this:
Turmeric has a rough brownish skin and a deep orange flesh, and it smells awesome.
It’s from the ginger family and looks a little bit like a smaller, more knobbly, orange looking root ginger.
Turmeric has a peppery, warm and slightly bitter flavor and a mild fragrance that is a little like orange and ginger mixed together (which is why it makes such a great tea – more on that too in a bit…)
It’s really lovely.
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Nutrient Content of Turmeric
It is a great source of the alkaline minerals and vitamins manganese, iron, vitamin B6, copper & potassium and also contains a lot of fiber for its small size!
Nutrition Data for Turmeric (2tsp)
But the real star of the show is the curcumin – a diarylheptanoid which is the chief curcuminoid in turmeric.
The oil in turmeric has huge anti-inflammatory benefits, but more powerful and the main beneficial part of turmeric is this yellow/orange curcumin molecule.
THIS has the power to change your life.
A Diabetes Cure? Just 1 of 1000+ Studies on the Power of Turmeric
In just one example of the studies I showed you in my Guide to Turmeric last week turmeric was 100% successful at preventing pre-diabetic patients from becoming diabetic over the course of a 9-month intervention (research published in the journal Diabetes Care – see this research paper here).
This incredible study involved 240 volunteers who all had the signs known to be pre-diabetes. At the beginning of the study, they were split into two groups and were assigned either a curcumin tablet or placebo.
After the 279 days of the study, 16.4% of the placebo group had gone on to develop Type II Diabetes.
And as for the turmeric group…
Absolutely NONE went on to develop Type II Diabetes.
Not a single person. ZERO.
In other words, in this sample group turmeric had a 100% success rate at preventing pre-diabetic patients from going on to develop type 2 diabetes.
This is just one study (of thousands) that proves the power of turmeric.
Which leads to the obvious question…
WHERE CAN I BUY TURMERIC?
The reason you haven’t seen it before or noticed it is because:
a) it looks weird
b) recipes rarely call for it
c) when they do they often tell you to buy powdered (which is fine too, more on that in a minute).
➞ Fresh Turmeric
As mentioned, you can get turmeric in most grocery stores.
I’ve seen it in Tesco, Waitress, Morrison’s, etc in the UK, in Coles & Woolworths in Australia and in Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Albertson’s etc in the USA.
You can also buy it online with Amazon (of course, is there ANYTHING they don’t sell?) retailing turmeric here for example.
Note: when handling turmeric, be aware it WILL stain clothes, skin, surfaces, chopping boards etc. You can wash it off your skin and surfaces easily enough – but it won’t come out of clothes.
There are also companies like Real Foods in the UK and Ripe n Raw Organics in Australia
To get to the point: it’s easy to find now you know how important it is!
➞ Powdered Turmeric
This is also absolutely fine, but I would always say fresh is best (tired of hearing me say that yet?).
You can also get this practically anywhere on Earth in any shop, store or online. Just make sure you keep it sealed, away from light, heat and preferably in the fridge.
Don’t be afraid to use copious amounts if you’re using the powdered form.
I’ve compared cutting up about 1 inch of fresh into making tea and then making tea with the powdered, and you’d be surprised at how much powder you need to use to get the same strength of flavor.
HOW DO I COOK WITH IT?
When cooking fresh turmeric, I would always recommend peeling it, as the skin can be a little tough.
In terms of using fresh or powdered turmeric in your meals, here are some ideas to get you started (and a few recipes to follow):
1. Use in Soups: as you can see on the recipe below, turmeric is fantastic for having in blended soups. Generally speaking, add the chopped, fresh turmeric at the same time as you’d add garlic, and once you blend it in, it gives the soup such depth. I love it. Officially my new favourite thing.
2. Use in Smoothies: just as easily as you can blend into soups, you can blend turmeric into smoothies. It adds a really nice warmth and spice to any smoothie, especially nice in winter!
3. Add to Juices: turmeric can be put through a juicer just in the same way as ginger to give you a concentrated hit of that incredible goodness.
4. Use in Dips: a little turmeric root or powder can easily be blended in when you’re making dips such as hummus, baba ganoush or the dip below.
5. Make Indian Golden Milk: this variation (to make dairy free) of this amazing Indian, warming, soothing drink is just delicious.
6. Toss with Roasted Veggies: this is a beauty because you can both roast turmeric to make it soft and full of flavor, or you can just sprinkle powdered turmeric all over your roast. Easy!
7. Grate into Salads: this is my super-trick for practically anything (works especially well with broccoli – if your kids won’t eat broccoli, try grating it into stuff. They won’t notice and you can put heaps in!).
8. Add to Stir ‘Fried’ Greens: turmeric tastes fantastic in stir fries, especially with leafy greens like kale and chard.
9. Make Turmeric & Ginger Tea: this is a deliciously refreshing way to get this powerful spice in your life! Plus you can have cool in summer and warm in winter! Win-win!
HOW MUCH TURMERIC DO I NEED EACH DAY?
At this stage, there isn’t enough research or evidence to give us a specific daily or weekly intake of turmeric in food form; however, research clearly indicates that regular consumption of this spice may offer important health benefits.
My personal approach is to supplement daily with a turmeric supplement, and include it in my diet through the actual food at least 3-4 times per week.
TURMERIC SUPPLEMENT BUYERS GUIDE
From all of my research, it appears there are a couple of things to look out for when choosing a turmeric supplement it is important to consider bioavailability (i.e. your body’s ability to use the nutrient in the form you consume it).
The trouble with most curcumin ingredients is that they are extremely poorly absorbed.
However, there is one form of curcumin called the phytosome form which was developed by the researchers in Milan and has been shown to be absorbed 29 times better than a standard curcumin extract.
So look for a curcumin/turmeric supplement that is in the phytosome form!
(Thanks to Ben Greenfield for this tip)
Note about Black Pepper (Piperine)
There is a big belief out there that turmeric is useless without a little black pepper. This has been wildly overstated. There are a few reasons I’m skeptical (tiny samples in the study – 8 humans), no follow-up research since 1997 despite millions of dollars of research conducted into turmeric since, the influence of funding from supplement companies and so on).
However, who knows, maybe this will be picked up and properly researched in the future with a positive correlation found.
For now – it can’t hurt. Use a little black pepper if you like. If you can’t or don’t have any – don’t stress.
In other words, it’s minutiae you can probably ignore.
5 SIMPLE STEPS TO GET THE BENEFITS OF TURMERIC EVERY DAY
Let’s MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Here are five simple steps to get more turmeric into your life:
- GO BUY SOME!: Make sure you just buy a heap of turmeric when you next go food shopping. You might not have your plan totally figured out just yet on how to cook with it – but simply having it in the house is the best first step
- GET IN THE JUICE & SMOOTHIE HABIT: not only is this the fastest, easiest way to get an incredible amount of greens and alkalinity in, but you can also add turmeric to practically any juice or smoothie
- GET GRATING: grating turmeric is a great way to sneak it into salads, stir fries, dips and practically any recipe, without anyone noticing!
- JUST CHEW IT: sometimes simple is best and if you’re struggling to remember to use turmeric or can’t seem to find the right recipes to add it to – just peel and chew on small chunks of it! It tastes great and you’re getting a great hit of it right then and there!
- SET A REMINDER: this could easily be one of those guides you read and think ‘Great, Ross, I’ll definitely do this!’ and then completely forget. Right now, set a reminder on your phone for seven days from now to buy some turmeric and your supplement if you haven’t already!
Read Next: 8 Ways to Eat Turmeric Daily
Research Studies & References:
Amal S Abdel-Azeem, Amany M Hegazy, Khadiga S Ibrahim, Abdel-Razik H. Farrag, & Eman M. El-Sayed. “Hepatoprotective, Antioxidant, and Ameliorative Effects of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and Vitamin E in Acetaminophen Treated Rats. Journal of Dietary Supplements. September 2013, Vol. 10, No. 3 , Pages 195-209
Aranya Manosroi, Warangkana Lohcharoenkal, Parirat Khonsung, Worapaka Manosroi, and Jiradej Manosroi. “Potent antihypertensive activity of Thai-Lanna medicinal plants and recipes from “MANOSROI III” database”. Pharmaceutical Biology. November 2013, Vol. 51, No. 11 , Pages 1426-1434 (doi:10.3109/13880209.2013.796391). Accessed October 17th 2013.
Balasubramanian K. Molecular Orbital Basis for Yellow Curry Spice Curcumin’s Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. J. Agric. Food Chem., 54 (10), 3512 -3520, 2006. 10.1021/jf0603533 S0021-8561(06)00353-0, Web Release Date: April 20, 2006. 2006.
Cruz-Correa M, Shoskes DA, Sanchez P, Zhao R, Hylind LM, Wexner SD, Giardiello FM. Combination treatment with curcumin and quercetin of adenomas in familial adenomatous polyposis. i>Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Aug;4(8):1035-8. Epub 2006 Jun 6. 2006. PMID:16757216.
Dorai T, Cao YC, Dorai B, et al. Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human prostate cancer. III. Curcumin inhibits proliferation, induces apoptosis, and inhibits angiogenesis of LNCaP prostate cancer cells in vivo. Prostate 2001 Jun 1;47(4):293-303. 2001. PMID:16280.
Hidaka H, Ishiko T, Furunashi T et al. Curcumin inhibits interleukin 8 production and enhances interleukin 8 receptor expression on the cell surface:impacgt on human pancrreatic carcinoma cell growth by autocrine regulation. Cancer 2002 Sep 15;96(6):1206-14. 2002.
Khor TO, Keum YS, Lin W, Kim JH, Hu1 R, Shen G, Xu1 C, Gopalakrishnan A, Reddy B, Zheng X, Conney AH, Kong AN. Combined Inhibitory Effects of Curcumin and Phenethyl Isothiocyanate on the Growth of Human PC-3 Prostate Xenografts in Immunodeficient Mice. Cancer Research. 2006 Jan; 66(2): 613-621. 2006. PMID:16423986.
Lim GP, Chu T, Yang F, et al. The curry spice curcumin reduces oxidative damage and amyloid pathology in an Alzheimer transgenic mouse. J Neurosci 2001 Nov 1;21(21):8370-7. 2001. PMID:16240.
Nagabhushan M, Bhide SV. Curcumin as an inhibitor of cancer. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):192-8. 1992. PMID:1578097.
Rhode JM, Huang J, Fogoros S, Tan L, Zick S, Liu JR. Ginger induces apoptosis and autophagocytosis in ovarian cancer cells. Abstract #4510, presented April 4, 2006 at the 97th AACR Annual Meeting, April 1-5, 2006, Washington, DC. 2006.
Srivastava KC, Mustafa T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and rheumatic disorders. Med Hypothesis 29 (1989):25-28. 1989.
Zhang L, Fiala M, Cashman J, Sayre J, Espinosa A, Mahanian M, Zaghi J, Badmaev V, Graves MC, Bernard G, Rosenthal M. Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Sep;10(1):1-7. 2006. PMID:16988474.
Risks and precautions:
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the use of herbs can interact with other herbs or medications.
Therefore it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking ginger or turmeric. You should not take ginger if you suffer from a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medications (such as warfarin or aspirin).
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It is not an attempt by the writers or publisher to diagnose or prescribe, nor should it be construed to be such. Readers are hereby encouraged to consult with a licensed health care professional concerning the information presented, which has been received from sources deemed reliable, but no guarantees, expressed or implied, can be made regarding the accuracy of same. Therefore, readers are also encouraged to verify for themselves and to their own satisfaction the accuracy of all reports, recommendations, conclusions, comments, opinions, or anything else published herein before making any kind of decisions based upon what they have read.
If you have a medical condition, please consult your medical practitioner.