Also called turmeric, turmeric is a root in the same family as ginger . And according to nutrition professor Luciana Marchetti da Silva, it is an important health ally.
“It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and has been studied for the prevention of Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. It also reduces insulin resistance and contributes to cholesterol control ,” says the professional.
Yellow ginger, as it became known, comes from Asia and is gradually gaining ground in Brazilians’ daily lives, thanks to these benefits. In addition to making the famous saffron tea , this root can also be used in culinary preparations such as rice or meat.
As a home remedy, it can also be used in the form of capsules, powder or mixed with honey . Scientifically named Curcuma longa L. , it is one of 71 plant species on the list of the National List of Medicinal Plants of Interest to the SUS (RENISUS).
What are the health benefits of turmeric?
“Curcumin, the pigment that gives color to saffron, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action ”, highlights Marchetti. This is the substance responsible for most of the root’s beneficial effects. Check out!
1. Helps in the prevention of neurological diseases
As mentioned by the nutrition professor, this vegetable can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. That’s because it has antioxidant activity , protecting the brain from the action of free radicals.
In addition, turmeric also has antidepressant activity on the Central Nervous System (CNS). In practice, this effect can prevent monoamine oxidase, blocking the degradation of neurotransmitters.
But it is not just depression that can be avoided through this benefit, as Parkinson’s disease and other neurological and neurodegenerative disorders can also be fought.
It is noteworthy that those who constantly consume this root can benefit from the anticonvulsant action performed by curcumin. This substance improves memory , cognitive performance and prevents cell death.
2. Ally in the treatment of diabetes
To understand this effect, it is necessary to know a little about diabetes mellitus, which is an incurable disease, but with the possibility of being controlled. It is often the result of chronic inflammation in the body.
So to live well with this condition, the patient needs to control blood sugar levels . However, this becomes a daunting task for anyone with resistance to insulin, the hormone that helps control blood sugar levels.
The problem is that insulin resistance is very common in people with diabetes, which further aggravates the clinical picture. And this is where saffron comes in, as the root decreases this resistance, allowing for greater control of blood glucose .
Another role played by turmeric is that of preventing or delaying diabetes , as it has an anti-inflammatory action, preventing inflammation from resulting in this condition.
3. Contributes to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
The same free radicals that can destroy (oxidize) brain cells can also interfere with cardiovascular health. These molecules are produced by the body, but they can also enter the body through pollution or unregulated eating.
When they are in excess, radicals can act aggressively against cells, causing various diseases. Atherosclerosis and hypertension are some examples of problems that affect the cardiovascular system and that can be prevented through a diet rich in antioxidants, such as yellow ginger.
In addition, the root extract has already been shown to be beneficial in reducing total cholesterol and lipid peroxidation, lowering LDL and triglyceride levels and preventing the death of important lipids. At the same time, it works by significantly increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
4. Lose weight
“Some studies show that saffron has a thermogenic action that can contribute to weight loss”, explains nutritionist Luciana Marchetti.
For those who don’t know, thermogenic foods are those that are difficult to digest and therefore demand more energy from the body. For this reason, studies point to turmeric as an appetite suppressant and obesity controller.
Despite this, the specialist warns that the root is not miraculous, even though it can be part of a balanced diet. “Weight loss is due to the caloric deficit and the ingestion of healthy, fresh or minimally processed foods ”, he emphasizes.
5. Fight inflammation
The anti-inflammatory power is one of the most researched and proven effects by scholars regarding Curcuma longa .
The root actually works by blocking the molecules that cause inflammation. In addition, it is considered analgesic , helping to minimize pain.
In this sense, rheumatism, arthritis and arthrosis can be treated and/or prevented with the use of this spice. Consequently, bones, muscles and nerves benefit from pain relief and improved joint movement.
6. Helps in cancer prevention
Turmeric still has anti-cancer and antitumor action, especially on breast cancer . Thanks to the presence of curcumin, the root helps to reduce the development of cancer cells in this region.
This substance has also been shown to inhibit the growth and invasion of leukemia . The compound works by preventing metastasis, a stage in which the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.
7. Strengthens the immune system
Free radicals can also promote the weakening of the immune system, so it is important to consume antioxidant foods such as turmeric, strengthening the body’s defenses .
In addition, the spice fights a group of diseases that affect immunization called immunodeficiency. That’s because it helps to stimulate and modulate the immune system.
8. Treat digestive problems
According to the nutritionist, turmeric tea can be useful in the treatment of diseases that affect the digestive system. One of the reasons is the stimulating power of the functions performed in this area.
The decoction prevents dyspepsia, better known as indigestion , and all its symptoms such as gas, burning, nausea and a feeling of fullness.
In addition, the food itself is therapeutic for problems related to the gastrointestinal tract involving all the organs of this system, such as the stomach, esophagus, intestine, gallbladder, pancreas and liver.
That’s because it forms a protective layer on the organs and helps eliminate toxic waste that can cause gastritis, gallstones and gallstones , constipation and ulcers.
9. Protects the liver
The liver is responsible for cleaning the body, so it deals with toxic substances from a high-fat diet, alcohol consumption and other excesses.
In order for it to always remain healthy and be able to perform its functions correctly, it is important to have ingredients in the diet that promote detoxification , such as turmeric.
In addition to helping to remove toxic substances, this natural product also has a hepatoprotective effect. For these reasons, it can fight hepatitis .
10. Fight micro-organisms
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium capable of causing simple or complex infectious diseases. For example, it can promote the appearance of pimples and boils, while it can be the cause of pneumonia and meningitis .
Despite being violent, the bacterium can have its growth inhibited by the use of this root, since the plant has antibacterial properties and acts by treating and preventing this micro-organism.
Turmeric on hair: is it beneficial?
“It has been used to combat hair loss by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, however I have no knowledge of its real efficacy”, claims Luciana Marchetti da Silva.
How to use?
As mentioned, turmeric is versatile and can be applied in different ways in everyday life. Check out!
Bela Gil is an avowed fan of turmeric, so you can find several videos of the chef using this spice. At Canal da Bela, she explains a little of the benefits of this seasoning and ends by teaching a super healthy juice. Learn it!
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, but if using fresh turmeric use 1 dessert spoon of the chopped spice
- ½ lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger
- 1 shallow teaspoon of cardamom powder
- 1 tablespoon of raw honey
- 1 glass of water.
The nutritionist recommends making tea with the root of this plant, using the proportion of 1 liter of water to 1 gram of saffron. The step-by-step step is quite simple, just put the ingredients in a kettle and let it boil for 3 minutes. Then just turn it off and wait until it gets warm to drink.
“Tea contributes to the strengthening of the immune system and to the treatment of digestive problems”, highlights the professional.
The tea itself can be consumed with honey, replacing sugar and serving as an ingredient full of health benefits, as Marchetti explains.
“Natural medicine uses this mixture to fight infections , however I think it is important that this is evaluated by a doctor”, he warns.
Another way to use honey with turmeric is to make a flu remedy . This recipe is also taught by Bela Gil, on the Nhac GNT channel. Learn how to do it and strengthen your immune system!
- 2 teaspoons of sliced fresh turmeric (or turmeric powder)
- 1/4 lemon peel
- 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 pinch of black pepper
- 3 teaspoons of raw honey
- 200 ml of warm water.
This version of saffron is one of the easiest to find ready for sale. However, it is possible to do it at home, just grate the raw root .
Thus, it can be used in various preparations, as it becomes a powdered seasoning. “ Soups, vegetables, rice, pulses, creams, purees, polentas, sauces, in short, various preparations can be added with saffron”, says the nutritionist.
Faced with so much variety, we have separated a recipe that uses turmeric powder. Check out!
Saffron in rice
Rita Lobo teaches how to make a sabzi polo rice in the Nhac GNT channel. See the list of ingredients and then learn step by step with the chef!
- 2 cups (of tea) of rice
- 1 onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- 10 stalks of chives
- 10 parsley sprigs
- 6 bouquets of endro (dill)
- 1 cup (of tea) of toasted sliced almonds (about 100 g)
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- Salt to taste.
Also according to the nutritionist, the capsule formula is also an option, but its choice is usually made when people do not like the taste of this seasoning. Therefore, it will depend on the adaptation of each individual.
In this case, it is recommended to talk to a nutritionist or nutritionist to find out what the ideal dosage is.
What are the side effects and contraindications of turmeric?
“Ingestion in inadequate amounts can damage health or harm the treatment of some diseases”, warns Marchetti. This is because the root may have drug interactions with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs .
Thus, patients who use medicines with these properties, should seek to consult a doctor before using this spice.
Curiosities about the root
Turmeric is a widely cultivated root in India, so it is also known by the name Indian turmeric . Follow other trivia and information below!
The flowers of Curcuma longa L. are yellow or white . They are important in harvesting, as soon after flowering, the aerial part of the plant dries up. And it is at this stage that the rhizomes are ready for harvesting, presenting an intense yellow color.
Where to buy
The root and powder can be found in health food stores, pharmacies or street markets. Some markets may also offer this natural product on their shelves.
Capsules can be ordered at compounding pharmacies or purchased at health food stores.
In Brazil, the plant known as true saffron is the species Crocus sativus L. Because it has this name, it can end up confusing people, so it is always good to pay attention to the scientific name.
Are turmeric and curry the same thing?
It is important to note that curry is a different spice than turmeric. The first one has a lighter color, but its composition uses turmeric as an ingredient.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.