Turmeric is really a bulb or tuber (rhizome) not unlike ginger. This underground stem is usually available as yellow powdered condiment in stores. The yellowish-brown underground stem has a deep orange inside that turns bright yellow once processed. To turn it into fine powder used in kitchens, the bulbous stems are boiled for 30–45 minutes and then dried in hot ovens after which they get ground into a deep-orange-yellow powder.
Turmeric is a traditional spice used since times immemorial in the Indian subcontinent. Its main component is curcumin that has medicinal properties. So besides being used to color food it also lends medicinal additives to our dishes. Curcuma longa the plant offers its roots for the wonderful and aromatic spice that flavors our curries with its distinctive indescribable taste that may at best be described as mildly peppery.
The chemical compounds of turmeric known as curcuminoids include curcumin diferuloylmethane, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The most minutely studied compound remains curcumin which constitutes on average about 3.14% of powdered turmeric. However there are variations in curcumin content depending on species of Curcuma longa. Additionally turmeric has important volatile oils like turmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene. Other general components include sugars, proteins, and resins.
Turmeric is largely used in the form of rhizome powder. In some regions, especially in Maharashtra, Goa, Konkan, and Andhra Pradesh turmeric leaves are used to wrap and cook food. This happens around areas where turmeric is grown and where leaves can be freshly picked. Turmeric leaves impart their distinct flavor. Typically the root is used in its dried, powdered form. Often turmeric is also used fresh, like ginger, especially in East Asian cuisine in the form of pickles.
In medieval Europe turmeric was commonly known as Indian saffron since it became an alternative to the expensive saffron. Although in India it is readily available even so the powdered form may be subject to adulteration. It may include toxic, cheaper agents similar in color like lead (II, IV) oxide that gives adulterated turmeric its orange-red color instead of original gold-yellow. Another common adulterant could be metanil yellow or acid yellow 36 that is an illegal dye used in foods.
Turmeric is often known as the Queen of Spices. Its distinct aroma and golden color is loved by true gourmands. As per the Journal of American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains many healthy nutrients like protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. It is said turmeric can inherently treat a wide variety of health problems.
Here are ten best known benefits of Turmeric:
- Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds with Powerful Medicinal Properties.
- Curcumin is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound.
- Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body.
- Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases.
- Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements that Lower Risk of Heart Disease
- Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer.
- Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s disease.
- Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation.
- Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits against Depression.
- Curcumin May Help Delay Aging and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases