Let’s drill down into one of the planet’s richest, most colorful, and aromatic spices that at once conjures images of rituals, mysticism, and cuisine. We’re talking about what was once called “Indian saffron” — the long revered spice of turmeric. While that may have been the description most commonly associated with this eastern spice, there is a side to this root with profound health benefits that far too often remains unsung.
Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and is native to Indonesia and South India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. For centuries, turmeric has proven to be an important component of Ayurvedic pharmacopeia, the traditional Indian medical system.
Curcumin, the yellow or orange pigment that gives turmeric it’s distinct color, has been identified as the primary phytonutrient in turmeric responsible for the anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant effect. In fact, numerous research studies have been conducted in a variety of health conditions including Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cystic Fibrosis, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease to determine the potential of curcumin to slow the disease processes of these chronic degenerative conditions.
One of the primary areas of research that I have reviewed the most with regards to the health benefits of turmeric is in the field of neurological disease. Turmeric has demonstrated the potential to increase the production of antioxidants in the brain, reduce the inflammatory response, and protect the myelin sheath from free radical damage. In addition, research has also verified turmeric’s potential to clear amyloid protein fragments as well as preventing their accumulation. The potential for turmeric to clear amyloid protein fragments occurs through the activation of important immune cells, commonly known as macrophages. Macrophages are part of the innate immune system. Macrophages are responsible for engulfing and destroying abnormal cells and suspected pathogens.
In addition to the potential health benefits already described, turmeric has also been shown to provide:
The anti-inflammatory potential is achieved through curcumin’s ability to block NF-kappa B, a primary cellular mediator of the inflammatory process. Unlike drugs, which are often associated with numerous side effects, as well as potential toxic effects, curcumin produces no toxicity, even in long-term use.
As an antioxidant, curcumin neutralizes free radicals that have the potential to damage healthy cells, cellular DNA, and cell membranes.
Curumin has demonstrated the potential to support the detoxification of several environmental toxins and dietary carcinogens as well as increase the body’s production of two important enzymes that are central to the detoxification process.
To increase the potential health benefit of curcumin, research has shown that combining turmeric with other phytonutrient dense vegetables such as onion (rich in quercetin), and the cruciferous vegetables (abundant in isothiocyanates), may both prevent and inhibit the growth and metastasis (spread) of certain types of cancer cells including but not limited to both colon and prostate cancer.
This powerful nutrient offers hope to all of us as we mature and consider our vulnerability to common chronic degenerative diseases that seem to be increasing in number, in spite of our efforts to reduce our risk.
Taking these suggestions into account, I have created a recipe that combines all three suggested phytonutrients in a delicious stew to be enjoyed at any time of the day. As an additional option, you can transform this stew into a soup by adding vegetable broth and coconut milk, and pureeing the ingredients.
2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons (or more) curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 2 lbs)
1 15-oz can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 cup raw organic almonds
1 cup raw organic walnuts
½ cup raw organic macadamia nuts
½ cup raw organic pumpkin seeds
½ cup desiccated unsweetened organic coconut
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons organic butter, melted
5 teaspoons curry powder (or more to taste)
Himalayan salt, to taste
(Original post on boomspot)