5 Health Benefits of Turmeric
1. Contains bioactive compounds which have protective properties
Colourful plant foods are good for our health because of their plant pigments, and turmeric is one of them. Much of the publicity surrounding the spice is thanks to the main active component curcumin, which makes up about 3 per cent of the root by weight. Although an impressive constituent, it’s worth remembering that curcumin is one of hundreds of bio-active compounds for which turmeric is famed.
The value of these protective compounds is that they help the body combat the damaging effect of a process called oxidation. Over time, this process may lead to chronic inflammation and, as a result, lead to age-related conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Including protective foods in the diet means our bodies are better placed to cope with ageing and the inflammation associated with it, as well as with exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness.
2. May help ease arthritis
The potential health benefits of turmeric, and curcumin in particular, include better regulation of inflammation in the body. Studies comparing the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric against those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have shown great promise. Moreover, animal studies exploring curcumin’s therapeutic potential as a treatment for arthritis have been encouraging.
3. May support cognitive function
Another active ingredient in turmeric is turmerone. Although less is known about turmerone, studies suggest it may be useful for conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease because it helps trigger cell repair and potentially support the recovery of brain function.
4. May lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
Studies suggest that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may protect against some of the steps involved in the development of heart disease, including improving cholesterol levels.
5. May support the immune system
Interesting studies suggest curcumin may act as an immune modulator influencing important immune cells including T cells, B cells and Natural Killer cells. In addition to this, curcumin appears to down-regulate pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines, the prolonged activity of which can lead to inflammatory damage. When consumed at low doses, curcumin may also enhance our antibody responses, helping us fight off infection. Animal studies suggest it may even play a role in controlling allergy, including hay-fever.