As the days grow colder and the winter aches and pains set in I find my thoughts turning to turmeric and its wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. A daily cup of turmeric tea is my defence against achey joints. But turmeric does so much more – it’s a true superfood and has a range of nutritional properties which can help slow down the body’s ageing process. In her series on anti-aging foods, nutritional therapist Sally Beare, author of The Live-Longer Diet and 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People explains its amazing properties.
The amazing anti-aging properties of turmeric
Turmeric – that bright yellow spice which colours Instagrammable hot drinks, smoothies, curries, stews and sometimes your kitchen worktop with its unmistakable shade of bright yellow. Turmeric is flavour of the month with the healthy-eating brigade, and for good reason, because it has exceptional healing properties. In Asia, where turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, it is so revered that it is sometimes known as Kanchani– the ‘Golden Goddess’. Here are some of turmeric’s health benefits:
Keeping inflammation down is key to managing and helping prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as arthritis, bowel disease and other conditions.Turmeric’s standout active ingredient is curcumin, the pigment which gives it its vibrant colour, and whose potency is comparable with that of anti-inflammatory medicines. 1, 2, 3
Turmeric has exceptionally high antioxidant power, rating sixth amongst the antioxidant superfoods in that respect. Antioxidant action means reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, and also protecting cells from free radical damage to produce an anti-ageing effect in the body; in other words, it can keep us younger for longer. 4
Cancer rates are low in South East Asian countries where turmeric is regularly used in cooking, and many studies support a causal link. Turmeric has the power to trigger the self-destruction of cancer cells and to inhibit blood flow to tumours, whilst in one study of twenty-five patients, it was found to prevent pre-cancerous cells from progressing. 5, 6, 7
And that’s not all…
The amazing health properties of this wonder-spice include anti-depressant, neuroprotective, anti-viral, anti-obesity, detoxifying, digestion-enhancing, liver-protective, and cholesterol-lowering effects. 8-15
Miller Green dishes with turmeric
When we add turmeric to our dishes, we also add black pepper and fats, usually in the form of coconut oil which greatly increases the ability of the body to absorb and use the anti-inflammatory compounds. A great example of this is our cauliflower, haricot, ginger and turmeric stew which we developed with Penny Brohn UK as a delicious dish jam-packed with cancer-fighting ingredients.
Cauliflower, coconut, ginger and turmeric stew
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets, including the freshest of the outside leaves, chopped
- 400g tin of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
- 75g jalapeño pepper from a jar, chopped plus a little splash of the juice from the jar
- 100g chopped kale
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Black pepper
Steam the kale over boiling water for about 5 minutes then remove and set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan for 30 seconds on medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds and stir until they start to sputter. Then add the onions and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, stir and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes soften.
Add the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the haricot beans and the kale and stir together. Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from burning.
Finally stir through the kale and the haricots beans.
Serve with rice or quinoa.
- Yan He et al (2015). Curcumin, Inflammation, and Chronic Diseases: How Are They Linked? Molecules 20, 9183-9213.
- Subash C Gupta, Sridevi Patchva, Bharat B Aggarwal (2013). Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. AAPS J 15(1):195-218.
- Menon VP1, Sudheer AR(2007). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 595:105-25.
- Shehzad A1, Lee J,Lee YS(2013). Curcumin in various cancers. Biofactors. (1):56-68.
Curcumin in various cancers.
- Shanmugam MK et al (2015).
The multifaceted role of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment. Molecules 5;20(2):2728-69.
- from www.cancerresearchuk.org
- Jung-Chun Liao et al (2013). Anti-depressant-like activity of turmerone in behavioural despair tests in mice. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 13:299.
- Greg M. Cole, Bruce Teter, and Sally A. Frautschy(2007). Neuroprotective effects of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol595:197-212.
- Narayanan A et al (2012). Curcumin inhibits Rift Valley fever virus replication in human cells. J Biol Chem. 2012 Sep 28;287(40):33198-214
- Asma Ejaz et al (2009). Curcumin inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and angiogenesis and obesity in C57/BL Mice. The Journal of Nutrition139(5):919-925.
- Goud VK1, Polasa K, Krishnaswamy K(1993). Effect of turmeric on xenobiotic metabolising enzymes. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 44(1):87-92.
- Wang Y et al (2016). Choleretic Activity of Turmeric and its Active Ingredients. J Food Sci. 81(7):H1800-6.
- Baghdasaryan Aet al (2010). Curcumin improves sclerosing cholangitis in Mdr2-/- mice by inhibition of cholangiocyte inflammatory response and portal myofibroblast proliferation. Gut59(4):521-30.