I went to Sagada this past weekend. It is in the Mountain Province of the Philippines, a 12-14 hour bus ride from Manila. Not a short ride for only two days there. It was beautiful though. Rolling, green mountains, cooler temperatures, rice terraces, caves and coffee plantations. We stayed very active, trekking and caving, not to mention the step hills just walking around town. It was so nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and hear birds chirping and feel a little tranquility.
One of the things I love about the Philippines, and South East Asia in general is the road side market stands with fresh produce everywhere. On our way home the bus stopped at a small village where there were roadside stands filled with fresh produce and you could see the farms behind them on the mountain side, with an incredible view overlooking the mountains in the background, doesn’t get much more local than that! They were advertising 3kg of fresh turmeric for P100 which is about $2 USD. I couldn’t resist. No, I did not get 3kg but I handed her P5 and asked her how much I could get. She handed me two big handfuls of the most beautiful and fresh turmeric. I was already planning this post as my second in the series of “superfoods” (the first was about maca if you want to check it out here) so I was obviously very excited about the score!
So on to the benefits of turmeric. Turmeric is a well known spice and coloring agent used traditionally in Indian cuisine. It has been used for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic practices for 1,000’s of years and the research is there to back it up. It has a subtle flavor but adds a punch of color. The main active compound, called a phytochemical, found in turmeric is curcumin. It is known to hold a lot of the nutrition and health benefits, the most prominent being anti-inflammatory properties in the body.
Inflammation is our bodies natural response to stresses, there is good and bad inflammation. When you have acute inflammation, like a cut, your body has an inflammatory response to heal the wound, this is good. Chronic inflammation is your bodies response to stresses that are usually less obvious and happens throughout your body. Arthritis, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma etc. When our bodies undergo this type of inflammation is can cause damage or disease overtime. Click here for a short video about inflammation if you want to learn more. Turmeric is known to work to lower this inflammation in the body. It also has antioxidant power, again cancer fighting properties. It is actually linked to the lower incidence of colorectal cancer in India because it is so prominent in Indian cuisine. Studies have shown beneficial effects on other types of cancer, heart health, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimers.
Curcumin is not naturally absorbed well into the body but studies have found a 2000% increase in absorption when combined with black pepper. If you have ever heard of golden milk, which is turmeric beverage that has become really popular, it has black pepper in the recipe, it might have sounded weird at first glance but don’t skip it as an ingredient because there is a reason for it!
The best part of turmeric- its readily and cheaply available! Turmeric is a spice many of you may already have in your spice cabinet, and if you don’t I am sure your grocery store has it in the spice section. You can also buy the root form of it and either grind it fresh into your food or even add a little knob of it to your smoothies or golden milk like in the recipe below.
If you are wondering how to get turmeric in your diet everyday you can find it in capsule form. I love the Hineleban Farms capsules that are pure turmeric (they have no additives, just pure turmeric powder in a capsule.) I take a few everyday just for the added benefits.
For more recipes and information about anti-inflammatory diets sign-up for my 21-Day Food Lovers Reset here. The Turmeric Ginger Smoothie takes 5 minutes to make, its refreshing, anti-inflammatory, great for digestion, and most importantly delicious! I topped mine off with chia seeds and sometimes for extra nutrition I like to add a couple handfuls of leafy greens. Give it a try and you will be hooked! If you make it be sure to share your pics with #abnutrition. Below are 5 recipes you can try to add more of this amazing spice to your meals to get all the amazing benefits!
* If you are on blood thinners just be cautious. Because of the benefits of turmeric it can sometimes thin your blood too much, ask your doctor if you think this is a concern.
Turmeric Ginger Mango Smoothie
½-1 cup plain soy milk, more or less depending on how thick you want the smoothie
1 mango, diced, fresh or frozen
1 cup frozen pineapple
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 inch piece of ginger
½ inch piece in turmeric- no need to peel, just throw the whole thing in!
Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth.