Turmeric is a root, like ginger, that has anti-inflammatory properties. Growing up in southeast Asia, I became very familiar with turmeric root. I love its bright yellow-orange color and its zingy flavor. In India, turmeric is used to give curry its yellow color. In America, it’s mostly seen as a dried powder and added to chicken-flavored soups or sauces. Turmeric is so good for us, I think it’s time we expanded our diets to include spicing fish and other foods with it.
Jonny Bowden’s, Ph.D., C.N.S., practice of using food as medicine is similar to mine. He believes turmeric may be a potential cure-all for a number of health issues. He writes about the benefits of turmeric in his book, The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth: “It has anticancer activity, it helps support liver health, and it’s a powerful antioxidant. But the one property of turmeric that stands out—and that may even help support its other healthful activities—is its enormous power as an anti-inflammatory.”
Anti-inflammatories help keep our arteries young and less likely to clog, our skin from turning red or scaly, and our nasal passages from getting blocked. There are plenty of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories like aspirin, acetaminophen, and steroids. But turmeric is a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory without the adverse side effects of its medicinal counterparts.
Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D. says in his book Forever Young, “Ingesting turmeric root on a daily basis can help prevent the loss of cognitive function that we face as we age.” That’s due mostly to the curcuminoids found in fresh and dried turmeric. People who live in India eat turmeric in their curries almost every day and reports show a reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease on a nationwide level there. I taught my husband how to extract juice from the turmeric root and mix it into his orange juice every morning so he too can benefit from its healthy properties.
I live in Southern California where fresh turmeric roots can be found easily in our Indian and Asian markets. If you don’t have easy access to these types of markets, I recommend going to melissas.com. Melissa’s Produce carries exotic fruits and vegetables that aren’t easily found and can ship them to anywhere in the world.
Dried, powdered turmeric is carried in most grocery stores. Health-wise, it’s a good substitute for the fresh roots, which only about one week in the refrigerator. Fresh turmeric is sharper and zestier than dried, but they both impart a gingery, almost mustard-like flavor to food. Turmeric works well in recipes with garlic, lentils, chicken, and lamb. Potatoes and cauliflower also work well with turmeric. Try chopping potatoes and cauliflower, toss them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and about a tablespoon of dried turmeric, then roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. This makes a tasty side dish for grilled chicken or roasted lamb.
In my cookbook, FoodTrients: Age-defying Recipes for a Sustainable Body, I have many recipes that use bright yellow turmeric powder and even fresh turmeric juice. I use it in a whitefish scaloppine. I also create a coconut-milk curry with either fresh or dried turmeric and turkey pieces. My Turkey in Turmeric Sauce recipe is posted on this website. It’s delicious and it will help you age with Grace.