Considered a staple in South Asian cooking and an integral part of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, turmeric is finally getting the attention it deserves in the west. This powerful little spice goes way beyond adding flavor to curries and giving yellow mustard its bright color. It’s also packed with healing properties thanks to curcumin, its active ingredient. This beneficial compound turns turmeric into a nutritional powerhouse, aiding in everything from reducing the risk of heart disease to keeping our brains sharp. Check out these five reasons to add turmeric to your diet.
1. Turmeric Reduces Inflammation Naturally
There’s a reason why alternative therapies have long turned to turmeric. It’s a natural way to reduce inflammation in the body. Because inflammation is the underlying cause of chronic diseases, this means turmeric can help protect us from illnesses ranging from diabetes to autoimmune diseases. Proving that nature knows what it’s doing, research has found that turmeric is more effective than many over-the-counter drugs in fighting inflammation, including aspirin and ibuprofen.
2. Turmeric Keeps Alzheimer’s At Bay
Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have also been shown to boost cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s because the curcumin in turmeric is able to break through the plaques that form in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s, improving overall memory. And in Alzheimer’s patients experiencing irritability, agitation, and anxiety, regularly taking turmeric eased symptoms, increasing quality of life.
3. Turmeric Protects Against Heart Disease
Turmeric quietly works behind the scenes to prevent the buildup of “bad” cholesterol, protecting the body against plaque buildup, also known as atherosclerosis, which can block arteries and eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, curcumin has been found to reduce the risk of heart failure and could prevent abnormal heart rhythms — talk about a heart-healthy addition to the dinner table!
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