Turmeric (scientific name: Curcuma longa) is an ancient spice hailed for its numerous benefits.
- Turmeric and its extracts have been used for thousands of years in various ancient systems of medicine.
- Besides providing distinct flavor and color to foods, it has many beneficial compounds that are believed to promote health and prevent diseases.
Additionally, turmeric provides various other minerals (such as zinc, selenium, sodium, and copper), vitamins (including vitamins C, E, K, and B vitamins), and various antioxidants including curcumin.
A teaspoon of ground turmeric (about three grams) provides the following:
Turmeric is famous for its many health benefits. However, you must consult your doctor if you want to take turmeric for any medicinal purposes. Remember that most benefits can only be reaped when coupled with healthy eating and regular physical activity.
What are the 15 health benefits of turmeric?
The 15 health benefits of turmeric include the following:
- Good for the heart: Research suggests that turmeric plays a beneficial role in maintaining a healthy heart. It may lower the risk of various heart diseases by managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation in the body.
- Manages inflammation: Curcumin is the main anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric. Turmeric helps fight oxidative stress in our bodies and lowers inflammation. Chronic inflammation plays a crucial role in causing several diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer.
- May protect against cancer: Research suggests that regular turmeric consumption may help prevent and even aid in the treatment of certain types of cancer such as colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. This property may be attributed to its ability to fight harmful free radicals and inflammation. Free radicals can damage DNA, which can lead to uncontrolled cell growth or cancer.
- Good for vision: Turmeric may help prevent various eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and uveitis. Studies report that curcumin promotes healthy vision and reduces damage to the retinal cells (light-sensitive cells in the eyes).
- Helps manage weight: Studies report that curcumin may help boost metabolism and curb appetite, which may help promote weight loss. It reduces various inflammatory markers that are increased in obese individuals.
- Helps relieve pain: Anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric help relieve pain and swelling. Studies report the beneficial role of turmeric in managing arthritis pain and headache.
- Promotes digestion and gut health: Turmeric provides relief from various digestive issues including bloating, indigestion, and peptic ulcers. It may lower the risk of cancer-related to the gut. Turmeric extracts help reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
- May help manage diabetes: Studies report that turmeric may help manage diabetes and its complications. It may help lower inflammation and insulin resistance in the body, thereby helping in achieving healthy blood glucose levels.
- Promotes brain health: Turmeric improves brain and nerve health. Studies report that it may protect against cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Helps maintain healthy blood pressure: Turmeric helps maintain healthy blood flow, prevent damage to blood vessel walls and regulate blood cholesterol levels. All these factors may contribute to managing healthy blood pressure levels.
- Promotes skin health: Our skin is prone to damage by pollution and sun rays. Turmeric fights damaging free radicals and helps keep skin healthy. It may help manage skin issues such as signs of aging, rash, acne, and itching.
- May help promote mental well-being: Turmeric contains compounds that may help promote mental well-being. Studies report that curcumin may help relieve depression.
- Helps manage blood cholesterol levels: High blood cholesterol levels can lead to various conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. According to research, curcumin may help regulate healthy blood cholesterol levels.
- Promotes oral health: Curcumin may keep your gums, teeth, and oral mucosa healthy. It may help manage inflammation and relieve gingivitis (gum inflammation).
- Builds immunity: Turmeric strengthens the immune system, thereby preventing various diseases including infections, and aiding in recovery from diseases. Research shows the promising role of turmeric in various conditions such as tuberculosis, post-surgery recovery, viral infections, and allergic conditions.
Are there any side effects of turmeric?
Turmeric is generally safe when consumed in moderation. The most obvious side effect of turmeric use (particularly topical use) is staining.
You must avoid consuming turmeric as a supplement or medication unless discussed with your doctor. This should especially be done if you are on any medications or have certain health conditions such as kidney diseases, bleeding disorders, and heart diseases, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Some people may experience certain side effects after consuming turmeric such as:
This may particularly occur with consuming excess turmeric. Studies report that excessive turmeric consumption may increase the risk of kidney stones.
How much turmeric can you safely consume each day?
Daily consumption of turmeric up to 8 grams of is considered safe. To avoid undesirable effects, it is recommended to consult your doctor regarding doses of turmeric supplements.
- Generally, 500 mg of turmeric supplementation two times a day is prescribed.
- It is always better to keep your turmeric intake anywhere between 500 mg-1000 mg a day.
- Turmeric should be taken with meals to help with the absorption
Davis, B.M., Pahlitzsch, M., Guo, L. et al. "Topical Curcumin Nanocarriers are Neuroprotective in Eye Disease." Sci Rep 8, 11066 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-29393-8 <https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29393-8>.
"7 Health Benefits of Turmeric." Cleveland Clinic. Nov. 10, 2021. <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/turmeric-health-benefits/>.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Spices, turmeric, ground." <https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172231/nutrients>.
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