Get to know turmeric, the new "it" spice that's actually been around for centuries.
You might not be that familiar with turmeric, but you've probably had it at least once—maybe even more if you're a fan of Indian food. But more importantly: It has some serious, scientifically-proven medicinal properties that are beneficial for everyone, thanks to its main antioxidant, curcumin. Below, you'll discover why turmeric is on our list of best weight loss ingredients and pretty soon you'll be sprinkling turmeric on every dish you can!
It's An Inflammation Killer
Inflammation isn't a bad thing if it's temporary because it helps your body fight off the bad and keep the good. The problem comes when it's chronic. Chronic, low-level inflammation is believed to blame for most diseases and conditions in the body, including heart disease and arthritis. The curcumin in turmeric is shown to be more beneficial for the body than some of the most well-known drugs. A study published in the journal Ongogene found that curcumin is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory options out there, and you can find out more about these kinds of powerhouses with our report on 20 Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Weight Loss!
It Helps Whittle Your Waistline
There are a million-and-one supplements that promise to help you lose weight. But turmeric is shown to help reduce body weight and fat levels. A 2009 study by the USDA found that mice supplemented with turmeric experienced reduced weight gain and body fat levels even when food was not changed. Also, it's more difficult for your body to lose weight when you're fighting off inflammation, so getting rid of that through turmeric supplementation makes it easier to achieve your goals. Discover more ideas like this with these 30 Fascinating Weight Loss Tricks You Haven't Tried.
It Punches Free Radicals in the Face
Simply put, free radicals are highly-radioactive molecules with unpaired electrons that latch onto stable molecules and steals the electrons. Once that happens, the molecule becomes unstable, too, which damages healthy cells and can result in disease. Antioxidants counteract those free radicals and stabilize them. The curcumin in turmeric is both full of antioxidants and helps boosts the body's own antioxidants to fight off those disease-causing free radicals.
It Boosts Your Brainpower
Need a brain boost to get through the day? Try adding in some turmeric. A study from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, found that participants experienced significant memory boost and were better able to focus on specific tasks within an hour of consuming curcumin. What you eat can affect your focus, so find out more with these 22 Best & Worst Foods for Your Brain.
It Helps Heal Your Heart
Can turmeric help prevent attacks? The findings of a 2012 study seem to point in that direction. A study followed 121 patients who underwent bypass surgery—those in the study group took curcumin capsules for three days pre- and five days post-surgery. Thirteen percent of the group who took the supplement experienced heart attacks, compared to 30 percent of the placebo group.
And Keeps Cholesterol in Check
Inflammation and oxidative stress can damage blood vessels and arteries, giving cholesterol the perfect environment to latch on. Over time, excess cholesterol can cause a whole host of health problems, including heart disease. A study published in the journal Drugs in R&D found that curcumin was more effective than other drugs (like diabetes medications) at reducing factors that contribute to cholesterol. Now that you know turmeric is a good food for your heart, be sure to avoid these 30 Worst Foods For Your Heart.
It's Shown to Help Fight Cancer
Though research is ongoing—and will be for awhile—turmeric is shown to help fight cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the curcumin in the turmeric "interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread" and is even shown to kill cancer cells (when studied in a lab).
And Alzheimer's Disease
Aromatic turmerone—another compound found in curcumin, promotes the repair of stem cells in the brain, according to a study. These stem cells are important in the prevention and recovery of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Further, a 2008 meta-analysis of turmeric studies found that curcumin can improve memory in patients with Alzheimer's.
It Can Help Banish Arthritis and Joint Pain
Remember when we said that curcumin is one of the best anti-inflammatory cures out there? That goes for arthritis and joint pain, too. Another 2008 study conducted at a university hospital in Thailand found that turmeric worked just as good as anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen in participants with osteoarthritis of the knee.
It Helps Beat Depression
A study found that people with mild depression might actually have more success with turmeric than with Prozac. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research examined 60 volunteers with major depressive disorder and split them into three groups: one that just took turmeric; one that just took fluoxetine (Prozac); and one with a combination of both turmeric and Prozac. The results? The curcumin was just as effective as Prozac. "This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with Mild Depression," the researchers wrote in the study. We wonder what else they would have found if they had also tested these 15 Foods That Make Your Depression or Anxiety Worse?
It Keeps You Young
Getting older is inevitable, but turmeric is shown to help hold back the signs of aging. Like we mentioned earlier, the curcumin in turmeric helps fight free radicals. These free radicals can exacerbate the aging process, but regular consumption of turmeric can help prevent that. In fact, a 2009 Indian study found that topically-applied turmeric can help prevent the photo-aging process that comes from exposure to UV rays.
And Kicks Diabetes Down
Turmeric has been shown to help prevent and reverse diabetes, according to different studies. A study conducted by researchers at Auburn University found that curcumin was 400 times more potent than Metformin at activating the compound responsible for improving insulin sensitivity and, in turn, reversing diabetes. A separate 2012 study examined people with prediabetes for nine months and found that those who took turmeric didn't develop diabetes while 16 percent of those in the placebo group were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
It Helps Balance Those Bowels
The anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric and curcumin can help manage bowel issues that arise from inflammatory diseases like IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. One study found that patients who regularly got the curcumin in turmeric were able to reduce—or even eliminate—their need for corticosteroids.
And Banishes Heartburn
Indigestion and heartburn can be painful, but a 2014 clinical trial found that participants who took 1 gram of curcumin twice a day for six months were better able to recover from indigestion—and the symptoms didn't return with regular consumption of turmeric. Speaking of heartburn, it's one of the most common reasons you toss and turn once you've gone to bed. Can't Sleep? Avoid These 20 Foods That Keep You Up at Night.