Turmeric is a perennial plant which is native to South Asia and part of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. Most of the world’s turmeric crop is produced in India, where 80% of it is consumed. In fact, Erode, located in the state of Tamil Nadu, is known as “Turmeric City,” or “Yellow City.” This name stems from being the most important turmeric trading center and producer in the world.
When hearing the word turmeric, most people conjure up an image of vibrant orange-yellow powder, used as a spice in curry dishes. To get to this state, the turmeric plant is grown in temperatures ranging from 68-86 degrees. The plants require a large amount of rain to produce a strong crop. Each year, they are harvested and their rhizomes are boiled for 30-45 minutes, then sufficiently dried before being ground into fine powder.
Beyond its use as a well-known spice, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It contains various compounds known as curcuminoids. Of these curcuminoids, curcumin is the most beneficial, as it contains several medicinal properties. Together, turmeric curcumin has gained recognition as a miracle food. Its list of benefits ranges from soothing various skin conditions to treating arthritis pain.
The turmeric root is packed full of nutrients and can be used in many ways. Turmeric root can be eaten raw, made into a paste, extracted for its oil, or dried and ground. As a ground product, turmeric is often used in dietary supplements due to its healing properties.
Ongoing studies continue to show turmeric root success in preventing and fighting off cancer cell growth. It may also help prevent or treat several types of cancer, including cancer of the prostate, breast, colon, and skin. The root is credited with aiding in the digestion of fatty nutrients and believed to help fight off bacteria and viruses found in the digestive tract. One promising study published in 2012 reported seeing less recurrence of colitis when turmeric root was given as a daily supplement.
Roots Rich in Vitamins
No matter which forms you prefer, you’ll reap the benefits of iron, fiber, potassium, and various vitamins that come from the turmeric plant.
The root is an excellent source of vitamin B6 (0.122mg per tbsp). B6 plays an essential role in the body’s immune and nervous systems, metabolism, and red blood cell production.
Vitamin C boosts the immune system, supports brain function, and assists in regulating mood. Vitamin C also helps produce collagen.
Small amounts of vitamins E and K are also among those found in turmeric. These vitamins help protect against free radicals, assist with the immune system, help the blood clot, and aide in keeping bones healthy. Many turmeric-rich supplements can be found to help target these concerns and replenish deficiencies.