By Priya Kathpal

King Of Spices – Turmeric

A spice as humble as turmeric, used widely in our cooking is also known as ‘King’ in the spice world. One would wonder why so?? We all know that it is added in food for much more than just adding the bright yellow colour, turmeric in warm milk is a winter special beverage in many households including mine. It is not just comforting but also prevents the typical cold, flu and likes during the weather change.  But, does this justify calling it the ‘King’?? Well if you keep reading you will know more and then you can decide for yourself.

Most benefits of turmeric come from the compounds called curcuminoids (scientifically turmeric is known as curcuma longa). Plenty of studies have stated that this particular herb can be useful in range of serious issues like aiding the treatment of pancreatic cancer, delaying onset of diabetes, helping in treatments for Alzheimer’s, depression to simple everyday problems like skin, hair, digestive health etc.

Curcumin the most potent compound in turmeric has excellent anti inflammatory properties. Unlike the anti inflammatory drugs used in conditions like arthritis curcumin is safe and natural. A recent study showed arthritic patients consuming 200 mg of curcumin had lowered pain and increased mobility. The compound is so powerful that its as effective as the drugs. Now you may ask how to consume that much curcumin?? Turmeric extracts are available in the form of supplements and can be consumed for its benefits under expert guidance. A point to keep in mind is that curcumin from turmeric is not easily bioavailable but this can be improved by consuming it with pepper (it contains a compound piperine which helps)

Turmeric is an outstanding antioxidant which means it can reduce oxidative stress on the body. It has also shown to improve memory retention due to the same. Don’t be surprise to know that statistics show  the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is 25 percent lower in India than in the US, given the extensive use of turmeric in the cuisines.

Turmeric is a known antibacterial and antiseptic which helps in treating skin issues like acne. Few studies have also pointed out that it can prevent the formation of wrinkles thus working brilliantly as an anti ageing agent. Bleaching properties also help treat skin pigmentation. Most of these benefits are garnered not just by consumption but also by applying on affected areas.

This is just a gist of what turmeric can do, Can we now call it King??

What is the best way to buy and store turmeric?

Ideally buy the dried herb in form of chunks and powder it at home or rub it to use. This will make sure you are getting additive and artificial coloring free spice. Store in an airtight container, if buying the fresh version keep in refrigeration.

Now since its winter what better way to consume turmeric but in a hot beverage –

Hot Chocolate with Turmeric

3/4 cup milk (you can choose from a range – fat free, skim, full fat, almond, coconut etc)

1/2 cup water

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of pepper

honey to taste

Mix and heat milk and water in a saucepan. Remove from heat just before boiling.

Blend it with cocoa, spices and honey. Blend till frothy.

Serve warm and enjoy may be with a book 😉