Nutritional Information for Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright-orange root spice. It’s traditionally used in Indian dishes in combination with other spices to make curry, and for good reason based on its healing properties. Over 1,000 studies have been conducted on turmeric and cancer. Its active component, curcumin, appears to block cancer cells from growing and spreading while even protecting normal cells from carcinogens. Adding black pepper and a source of fat to meals with turmeric enhances the antioxidant capacity of curcumin, in some cases by up to 2,000 times!

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Benefits of Turmeric

Cancer Prevention Benefits

Researchers can track the level of DNA damage and inflammation, predictors of cancer, in people by measuring their immune cells before and after eating turmeric. They found that consuming less than a teaspoon of turmeric daily for a week could slash DNA damage in half! It was cooked turmeric that worked best so if you use it raw, consider cooking it first. In the same study ginger and rosemary had a similar impact, but only worked half as well compared to turmeric. Paprika was also found to lower some inflammatory pathways. Bottom line: stacking up on different herbs and spices may boost immunity and protect the body from DNA damage.

Men's Health Benefits

Autoimmune disorders lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may be improved by taking turmeric or curcumin. A common symptom of lupus is kidney inflammation. Just ¼ teaspoon of turmeric per day has been shown to help reduce inflammation and other symptoms associated with lupus. In some cases turmeric worked just as good as commonly prescribed drugs. Although turmeric is no substitute for all lupus medications, using turmeric is safe and affordable unlike many prescription drugs that come with side effects. Clinical trials in patients with RA have similar findings. It seems once again the curcumin in turmeric was able to beat out a common drug, diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) often prescribed for arthritis. It’s not that the drug didn’t work, but that curcumin worked even better. Plus, NSAIDs are known to damage the inner lining of the gut, whereas turmeric is safe and can even help protect the gut.

Turmeric may also help protect against heart disease. It seems to have an artery-opening ability, helping relax the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels.

Turmeric has been shown to help maintain brain health. It’s also been found to help patients recover better from surgery. When used topically, turmeric-based ointments may help treat skin diseases and cancers lining the digestive tract (mouth, colon, etc).   

For diabetes, turmeric seems to have a glucose-lowering effect.

 

Ways to Use Turmeric

  • Make homemade lentil or chickpea curries using turmeric.
  • Use turmeric in smoothies.
  • Add to tofu scrambles or chickpea quiches.
  • Try plant-based version of “golden milk” using turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and plant-based milk of choice (e.g. coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk).
  • Prepare a ginger carrot soup and add turmeric and black pepper to it.
  • Add to vegetable stir-fries, brown rice dishes, and lentil soups.
Resources for Turmeric

American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org

Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org

Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org

USDA Nutrient Database: Turmeric

Citations
  1. Park W, Amin A, Chen Z, Shin M. New perspectives of curcumin in cancer prevention. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2013;6(5):387 – 400.
  2. Hutchins-Wolfbrandt A, Mistry A. Dietary turmeric potentially reduces the risk of cancer. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12:3169 – 3173.
  3. Ahmed T, Gilani A. Therapeutic potential of turmeric in Alzheimer’s disease: Curcumin or curcuminoids? Phytother Res. 2014;28(4):517-25.
  4. Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012;26(11):1719-25.
  5. Krishnaswamy K. Traditional Indian spices and their health significance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:265-8.
  6. Polasa K, Raghuram T, Krishna T, Krishnaswamy K. Effect of turmeric on urinary mutagens in smokers. Mutagenesis. 1992;7(2):107-9.
  7. Percival S, Heuvel P, Nieves C, Montero C, Migliaccio A, Meadors J. Bioavailability of Herbs and Spices in Humans as Determined by ex vivo Inflammatory Suppression and DNA Strand Breaks. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012;31(4):288 – 294.
  8. Aggarwal B, Gupta S, Sung B. Curcumin: An orally bioavailable blocker of TNF and other pro-inflammatory biomarkers. Br. J. Pharmacol. 2013;169(8):1672 – 1692.
  9. DiSilvestro R, Joseph E, Zhao S, Joshua B. Diverse effects of a low dose supplement of lipidated curcumin in healthy middle aged people. Nutr J. 2012;11(1):79.
  10. Anand P, Kunnumakkara A, Newman R, Aggarwal B. Bioavailability of curcumin: Problems and promises. Mol. Pharm. 2007;4(6):807 – 818.
  11. Shehzad A, Lee J, Lee Y. Curcumin in various cancers. Biofactors. 2013;39(1):56-68.
  12. Moos P, Edes K, Mullally J, Fitzpatrick F. Curcumin impairs tumor suppressor p53 function in colon cancer cells. Carcinogenesis. 2004;25(9):1611-7.  
  13. Schmidt C. Questions persist: environmental factors in autoimmune disease. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Jun;119(6):A249-53. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119(6):A249-53.
  14. Borchers A, Leibushor N, Naguwa S, Cheema G, Shoenfeld Y, Gershwin M. Lupus nephritis: a critical review. Autoimmun Rev. 2012;12(2):174-94.
  15. Boyce E, Fusco B. Belimumab: review of use in systemic lupus erythematosus. Clin Ther. 2012;34(5):1006-22.
  16. Khajehdehi P, Zanjaninejad B, Aflaki E, et al. Oral supplementation of turmeric decreases proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis: a randomized and placebo-controlled study. J Ren Nutr. 2012;22(1):50-7.
  17. Chuengsamarn S, Rattanamongkolgul S, Luechapudiporn R, Phisalaphong C, Jirawatnotai S. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012;35(11):2121-7.
  18. Na L, Li Y, Pan H, et al. Curcuminoids exert glucose-lowering effect in type 2 diabetes by decreasing serum free fatty acids: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013;57(9):1569-77.

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