With its intriguingly eye-catching golden-orange hue, the benefits of turmeric are plentiful. This ancient spice not only lends a special and unique flavor to your cooked dishes, but it also offers an impressive list of health benefits, as well.
Read on to learn more about how turmeric’s powerful compounds, and its active ingredient, may provide a range of benefits.
Turmeric Vs. Ginger: What’s The Difference?
It’s easy to confuse one for the other, as both have similar appearances and remain staples of Asian cuisine. They even offer many of the same health benefits, albeit from different phenolic compounds. In terms of flavor, ginger offers a more bold, spicy taste, while turmeric is noted for its slightly more bitter and peppery flavor profile.
Ginger credits its natural health properties to gingerol, while turmeric counts curcumin as its main active ingredient.1
What Makes Turmeric So Powerful?
A staple in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is composed of different compounds called curcuminoids, with the most potent identified as curcumin. The curcumin in turmeric is considered its most powerful active ingredient.2
Curcumin: A Powerful Antioxidant
Curcumin has been found to be an especially effective and efficient antioxidant agent. This means it has potential to support heart and joint health and help protect the body from oxidative stress.3,4
Oxidative stress occurs when the cells in the body become so overwhelmed by free radicals, which are often associated as contributing factors to the development of certain serious health issues. As an antioxidant, curcumin has been found to help reduce or inhibit oxidative stress in the body by neutralizing the potentially damaging effects of free radicals on the cellular level.5
Research also suggests that curcumin could be just as potent an antioxidant as vitamins C and E.6
Can You Use Turmeric For Your Beauty Routine?
With “antioxidant” being such a beauty buzzword, it only stands to reason that these promising effects on the cellular level must carry over to skincare, right?
Researchers certainly seem to believe so, citing curcumin’s ability to help support cellular health, which may lead to improvements in the appearance of skin.7
Considering adding curcumin to your beauty routine? Try making a DIY turmeric face mask at home for starters. Warm a bit of honey in the microwave, then add a teaspoon each of turmeric powder and milk (or Greek yogurt). Let cool and apply this mixture to your clean face, relax with it on for about 20 minutes, and simply rinse off with warm water.8
Can Turmeric Support Digestion?
Is gas and/or digestive comfort something you often struggle with? Certain properties of turmeric might also support overall digestive health. Talk to your doctor and see if a curcumin supplement or an herbal tea (with turmeric and black pepper) could help ease discomfort associated with digestive issues.9
Harnessing The Power Of Turmeric
As you can see, turmeric offers great potential benefits. That said, there’s one big issue with curcumin: low bioavailability. This means the human body can only store and use small amounts of it — implying you need to constantly keep up with your curcumin supplement regimen to really feel results.
What’s the tastiest way to do so? Add turmeric to your dishes. Let the striking color and strong flavor whet your appetite, and consider adding a bit more black pepper — research shows a certain compound in black pepper, called piperine, enhances your body’s ability to absorb turmeric.10,11
Finally, enjoy adding turmeric to your beauty regimen. Try turmeric essential oil or ground turmeric for your homemade salves or facial masks.
Ultimately, there’s nothing stopping you from tapping into the powers of turmeric, as practiced by ancient Indians and Chinese for thousands of years. However, it’s only wise to seek the advice of your doctor before attempting to supplement with turmeric-based remedies.
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