The first spice in our Spice up your life series is turmeric (Curcuma longa), who’s active component is Curcumin. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and has numerous health benefits if taken on a regular basis.
It’s properties include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and anti fungal, intact Dr James A Duke believes that turmeric can be more effective than pharmaceuticals but without the side effects. Here we look into the various health benefits and give you 5 great reasons to add turmeric to your diet on a daily basis:
1.Turmeric for Cancer
Turmeric can assist in preventing and healing many types of cancer. Curcumin can help to block the enzyme which promotes growth in cancer cells. It can also help cease metastasis, where cancer spreads from one part of the body to another. Cancer patients may have a better prognosis with regular consumption of turmeric as curcumin can make chemotherapy and radiotherapy more effective on cancer cells, thus being able to reduce the strength of the treatment. Eating turmeric with onions can be helpful in preventing colon cancer and taken with cruciferous vegetables can help prevent prostate cancer. Taken on a regular basis, turmeric can help to reduce the risk of childhood leukaemia.
2.As an anti-inflammatory
Studies have shown that the anti inflammatory properties in curcumin can play an active role in inhibiting the onset and easing symptoms of the following:
inflammatory bowel disease
Irritable bowel syndrome
3.It’s Good For the Brain
Studies have shown that eating turmeric on a regular basis can enhance cognitive performance, also it can help clear the build up of amyloyd plaque in the brain helping prevent and slow progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. In India where turmeric is an everyday ingredient there is a very low rate of Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric helps thin the blood and can help in reducing blood clotting. It is also useful in helping to keep cholesterol levels healthy.
5.Detoxifies the Liver
Curcumin aids the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, in the liver, helping keep our liver healthy, thus protecting us from toxins such as alcohol.
As with many foods it’s always best to eat turmeric raw, although you will still benefit from the dried spice. Studies have shown that taking black pepper with turmeric increases the body’s absorption by 2000, mixed with oils such as coconut and olive oil is even more effective as they act as carriers around the body.
Here’s a quick tasty turmeric recipe
Spicy Prawn Couscous
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 red pepper cut into squares about 1 cm
1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground)
2 tsp fresh ginger grated (or 1/2 tsp ground)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
500ml chicken,fish or vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
600g raw peeled king prawns
handful toasted almond flakes
handful fresh chopped coriander
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions, garlic and red pepper and gently cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Mix the spices to the vegetables and cook for another minute
- Add the stock and bring to the boil
- Add the lemon juice and prawns and take off the heat straight away
- After 30 seconds or so add the couscous and stir (you may need to add a little more hot water to make sure the couscous is just covered)
- Cover the pan with a lid or foil and leave for 5 minutes or until the couscous is soft
- Sprinkle the coriander and almonds on top and serve