Turmeric is a popular spice grown in India and other parts of Asia, and has long been used for its medicinal and herbal properties in India and China. It’s a very popular ingredient in Indian cooking, commonly known as haldi and is mostly consumed in its yellow powdered form.
However, it is only recently that I discovered the great health benefits of the tumeric root. Honestly, I had never ever seen a turmeric root before and hadn’t heard much about it either. My mother-in-law recently told me about the abundant health benefits of the turmeric root and I thought of investigating it further.
Curcumin is the ‘magic’ ingredient present in turmeric which boasts of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It is this component which imparts the deep orange color to its flesh. The fresh root also contains vitamin c which prevents the body from infectious agents and free radicals (anti-oxidant properties). The anti-inflammatory properties prevent in turmeric, help act as a pain killer and has been used in Asia for treating a long list of conditions such as diarrhea, fever, bronchitis, colds, parasitic worms, leprosy, and bladder and kidney inflammations. In its powdered form, it is also used as a popular remedy in India for beating cold and cough ( by mixing a tea spoon of turmeric powder in hot water along with a tea spoon or two of honey).
The most interesting aspect however, are the current studies that are directed towards suggesting and confirming the anti-cancer properties of turmeric root. Lab studies have suggested hat curcumin interferes with the development of cancer and tumor cells. There is some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system (like colorectal cancer). Additionally, because chronic inflammation may lead to a variety of diseases such as alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease etc, anything that helps fight chronic inflammation is helpful in avoiding these diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties discussed above help in achieving this purpose as well.
It also contains minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium!
How to consume?
Turmeric powder is used as a common ingredient for cooking in India (1tsp/meal). I have recently started consuming the fresh turmeric root and it is surprisingly less bitter and has a tangy zesty taste to it (very similar to ginger).
I prepared a very simple turmeric root pickle and we consume a couple juliennes of the root every meal. Here’s how to prepare.
1) Wash the roots and keep them to dry for a couple of hours.
2) Peel of the skin with a peeler and cut it into thin juliennes like the picture shown below.
3) Add 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice and salt to taste and mix it well.
4) Store in an air tight container and consume 2-3 juliennes of the root with every meal.
While turmeric powder and root is quite easily available in India, I managed to find the root in an Indian store here in San Francisco, Bay Area.!
Be aware of the strong yellow stains that it may leave and be sure to use gloves !