Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a flavorful spice that is widely used in cooking. It gives curry its yellow color and is a flavoring in mustard.

Turmeric is also receiving attention for potential health benefits. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that curcumin is the active substance in turmeric. The spice has been used for many years as a possible treatment for a variety of issues, including infection, digestive problems and inflammation. Research is ongoing on the turmeric benefits.

“Studies are looking at the use of turmeric in digestion, cancer, infections, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and many other diseases but evidence in these areas is still preliminary,” said Connie Diekman, RD, board certified specialist in sports dietetics and director of university nutrition at Washington University.

We asked her to tell us more about turmeric. Some of the research is promising, but not all of turmeric’s uses may prove to be effective in humans.

“Studies thus far have been done predominately in test tubes or in animals such that the evidence to support its benefit in humans is not documented. Evidence does show a possible benefit in lowering cholesterol or reducing some of the pain of osteoarthritis but more research is needed. This is an important area where ‘Talk to your doctor first’ is excellent advice,” she added.

Turmeric is a spice, with only a small amount used in a typical dish. Is it possible to eat enough turmeric in your diet to get the health benefits?

Diekman: “This is probably the biggest question with regards to turmeric and health, the evidence does not provide a clear answer so in the interim, enjoy it in your cooking.”

What’s are some ways that turmeric could be incorporated in your diet?

Diekman: “Turmeric is most commonly used in Indian food where it provides the yellow color of curry and the spice curry conveys. Its slightly peppery flavor makes it a good addition to blander dishes – rice, potato dishes, pasta – so even if you don’t cook Indian you can find uses for turmeric – just start with small amounts and increase as you enjoy the dish.”

Turmeric is a spicy way to add variety to your diet and possibly enjoy other benefits. We’ve pinned some recipes on our Pinterest board Benefits of Turmeric.