Turmeric is a popular spice used in many ethnic dishes (think curry) and is native to cuisines Indian and Indonesian. It’s known for its trademark orange-yellow coloring and earthy-peppery flavor, and more recently has branched out beyond dietary supplements to on-the-go shakes, smoothies, sports-nutrition-related products, savory snack bars, and more. But turmeric does more than color and flavor dishes—it has a long history of use in traditional medicine in India. One of its active ingredients—curcumin—has been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Research on curcumin continues to gain traction in the areas of sports nutrition, bone health, brain health, heart health, and chronic inflammation. In fact, it’s becoming widely known that turmeric can actually reduce the likelihood of various health problems such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease—and more. Yep, turmeric is amazing for your overall health and well-being; here’s why:
Antioxidants fight off free radicals known to wreak havoc on the body. Curcumin has been studied for its ability to help fight off these free radicals. Recent studies suggest curcumin may provide antioxidant protection against oxidative damage in the brain. Oxidation is bad because it plays a role in the development of plaques in the brain that can lead to poor memory and compromised cognition.
Pharmaceuticals used to treat inflammation such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen have a host of side effects. The natural products industry is continuously searching for natural alternatives to combat inflammation instead. Enter turmeric. Where NSAIDs are known to inhibit a key enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain, curcumin has been shown to actually block the formation of mediators of inflammation. A 2009 scientific review supported this notion, stating that curcumin has great potential to act as a therapeutic agent for several types of inflammatory conditions.
In fact, curcumin may improve morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling in patients with osteoarthritis, a condition often treated with NSAIDs.
In 2010, two separate studies evaluated curcumin’s efficacy in bone health and inflammation. In both studies, patients affected by bone-health challenges not only improved their treadmill walking performance tests, but their inflammatory markers were significantly decreased at the conclusion of both studies.
In 2012, a study published in Nutrition Research journal investigated the impact of curcumin and aerobic exercise on endothelial dysfunction—a vascular dysfunction. This dysfunction causes an imbalance where the inner lining of the blood vessels are unable to relax and/or constrict properly in postmenopausal women. The study showed that curcumin or an hour of daily aerobic exercise significantly improved endothelial function.
Curcumin also plays a role in heart health, specifically cholesterol management. Several studies suggest curcumin protects against the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, aka bad cholesterol. It’s also been shown to promote the good cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and healthy total cholesterol.
Make Your Years Golden With Tumeric
Turmeric’s major constituent, curcumin, is undergoing a new wave of research that continues to grow with the increasing positive benefits being uncovered. From a healthy heart to decreased inflammation, curcumin is indeed an amazing spice for overall health.
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