Turmeric & Curcumin
© 2017 · Cook Appétit.
Turmeric emerges as one of the hottest food trends right now not only because of its bright yellow colour but mainly due to its powerful medicinal properties.
Turmeric has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in Asia and in traditional Indian or Ayurvedic botanical medicine. It contains active compounds that are called curcuminoids and their main characteristic is the yellow orange hue they impart to turmeric. Turmeric is after all the main ingredient in curry.
The most important bioactive ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin and basically all turmeric health benefits you read about are almost always for curcumin’s medicinal properties.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and naturally fights chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is really important and if you remember from school, they used to tell us that without it pathogens could kill us. This is why when you have a cold and a slight fever it is actually a good sign because it shows your immune system is fighting the foreign substance. It is basically how your body responds to a harmful agent (infection), illness or injury. However, long-term inflammation can be damaging to our bodies and it is believed that it is linked with major chronic diseases like asthma, allergies, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Turmeric and more specifically curcumin has been compared to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs without the side effects.
Turmeric is a potent antioxidant that neutralises free radicals.
This is achieved not only due to its chemical composition but turmeric also stimulates and boosts the activity of our body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes. Free radicals cause a range of illnesses and diseases and antioxidants such as turmeric and catechins found in matcha are known for their anti-arthritic, anti-ulcer and anti-aging properties.
Turmeric has anti-cancerous properties and studies in the laboratory show turmeric compounds could actually reduce the growth of cancerous cells and possibly prevent cancer. Curcumin can also enhance the potency of chemotherapy drugs.
However, the curcumin content in turmeric isn’t really that high – approximately 2% by weight (4% at best). Also, curcumin gets metabolised quicker than it gets absorbed; curcumin is degraded by the acids in the stomach and ultimately very little is absorbed into the bloodstream. Practically this means that the turmeric health benefits are not realised unless somehow curcumin’s absorption is supplemented.
Therefore, it’s important to alway optimise the bioavailability of curcumin to increase its absorption.
1. Black Pepper: Piperine is a compound found in black pepper and aids the absorption of curcumin. One study concluded that pipeline can improve the bioavailability of turmeric up to 2000%!
2. Fat: Due to turmeric’s low solubility in water, curcumin’s absorption into our body is greatly inhibited. However, curcumin is soluble in fat, so mix it with almond or coconut milk to ensure you are reaping all of turmeric health benefits.
3. Heat: Heat also increases curcumin’s solubility up to 12 times, but make sure not to expose turmeric to heat for prolonged periods of time because it will burn.
4. Quercetin: Quercetin is a flavonoid (antioxidant) that is found in plants and foods such as red wine, red grapes, berries, onions and caper inhibits a certain enzyme that inactivates curcumin.
© 2017 · Cook Appétit.