Is this a “super spice”?
Spices we add to our foods can be some of the most beneficial and natural ways to stay healthy. Turmeric is an example of this and is becoming an increasingly popular health trend.
But what is turmeric?
Grace Peng, expert dietician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, sheds some light on the spice.
“Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice, closely related to ginger, that plays a large role in Asian cuisines and medicine,” says Peng.
In the few studies that have been done, results suggest that turmeric may help assist certain health conditions. It is important to note, however, that a lot of claimed benefits of turmeric are not supported by strong studies.
“There are speculations that the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, may reduce inflammation such as in bowel diseases, respiratory infections or even soreness from physical activity or surgery due to its strong antioxidant properties,” says Peng.
Just like with every health trend that surfaces, there are always possible dangers and cautions for those with certain pre-existing health conditions. Turmeric has blood thinning effects that could aggravate gallbladders, especially if gallbladder disease is present. However, according to the FDA, turmeric is a GRAS product, or ‘Generally Recognized As Safe.’
“Arthritis, respiratory diseases, skin irritation, cancer, diabetes, gastric and intestinal diseases are conditions that studies have found turmeric may be beneficial for,” says Peng. “The blood-thinning qualities even have shown to benefit study participants with a condition known as atherosclerotic.”
More work still needs to be done to narrow down what conditions turmeric may be able to help, as strong studies have not proven its effectiveness. Talk to your physician to learn more about this spice and others that may be beneficial to your health.
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About the Author
Amy Levato, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. She is a senior pursuing a degree in marketing at DePaul University. When she isn't interning, she enjoys interior design, dancing and spending time with her family and friends.