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Turmeric-the Wonder Spice

Turmeric-the Wonder Spice

If you had to give up everything but one thing in this world, turmeric probably wouldn’t make your list. However, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of looking in the mirror post a wonderful Indian meal, to find your teeth looking like they need a bit of Crest White Strip therapy, then you probably haven’t had enough. Turmeric is a deep golden orange powder made from boiling, baking, and crushing the rhizomes (think pieces of ginger) of a plant from, surprise, the ginger family.

Growing up, I was told that a key reason turmeric was added to Indian food was to produce a bit of color. Apparently, Indians don’t think the natural color of cooked lentils and vegetables is that appealing. And I do have to admit, a deep golden-yellow Toor dal looks much better than the sallow yellow pre-turmeric version. I was also told to never get it directly on my clothes unless I wanted them to go straight to Goodwill. But the nuisance of turmeric’s staining qualities pales in comparison to the crazy potent health benefits of the spice. Modern scientific studies are underway and showing positive signs about turmeric’s impact on:

-Alzheimer’s disease

-Cancer

-Arthritis

Apparently, Alzheimer’s is practically non-existent in India and scientists are attributing it to the use of turmeric in a daily diet, low meat intake and high vegetable consumption.

In a number of older cultures, including South Asia (Ayurvedic practice), the Middle East, and even Polynesian cultures, turmeric has been used as an antiseptic to clean and heal cuts and burns, help with digestion issues such as gas, and aid in healing sinus infections. I had a friend over one night who was complaining about the beginnings of a sore throat. I gave him a bit of turmeric to gargle with. He actually made it into a little paste and applied it directly to the back of his throat. The next morning, he said he was amazed but his throat didn’t hurt anymore. I felt like Dr. Quinn, medicine woman. Hardly a scientific study, but intriguing.

So, it turns out, that turmeric, once known as the poor man’s saffron, is actually this miracle spice. Next time you cook a meal, even if it isn’t Indian, think about throwing a bit of magic in your food!

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