Turmeric claims it can tackle diabetes, heart disease and cancer and has been hailed as the king of spices. The jury's out on that, but it has a place in any kitchen.
Honestly Healthy that, turmeric, her "number one favourite ingredient … may prevent the development of cancers".
Amazingly, for something with such incredible powers, at under £1 a jar for the powdered stuff, this spice remains cheap, which can't be said for all the supplements these wellness gurus recommend. So should we be hailing the world's first good-value superfood?
Turmeric is a member of the same family as ginger, also it doesn't actually taste very much. It is bitter and slightly warm. Its culinary popularity has more to do with its lovely colour, which new fans like to use in tonics, vegetable yoghurts (hang your head in shame Waitrose), and, one east London mole reports, sticky buns, the colour of the saffron variety, but considerably less pleasant to eat. The yellow
stuff is most commonly found, however,
So, turmeric tastes OK and turns everything a very pretty colour, which is enough to guarantee it a place in my kitchen. But does it actually do any good? Is it a so-called "superfood"?)
Let's take the various claims made for it one by one.
1) It's an anti-inflammatory
This may sound like it's only going to be useful if you've managed to twist your ankle, but in fact, research increasingly suggests a link between chronic inflammation and obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Curcumin is the yellow pigment that's the active ingredient in turmeric. Though there is some evidence that supplements, can reduce levels of the inflammatory proteins released by our cells, findings have so far been described by researchers as "modest. There is not yet enough data to come to a definite conclusion, but analysis of several studies suggests that curcumin supplements may provide a similar level of pain relief for arthritis sufferers as ibuprofen.
2) Diabetes and heart disease
Curcumin has been known to bring down high blood sugar levels and has been claimed to safeguard against insulin resistance and help. The headlines are prompted by animal trials; those in humans have thus far only shown a very negligible decrease in blood glucose. On heart disease in humans to draw any meaningful conclusions, there have not as yet been sufficient trials of the effects of curcumin.
There's as yet little real evidence of curcumin's ability to prevent or halt the spread of cancers in human subjects. Though there have been a few, very small-scale studies showing encouraging results in cancer patients. The mail may have splashed on the curry implant that can shrink breast tumours.
As per Anthony Warner, blogger, of the marvellous One Angry Chef blog: "I am no medical researcher, but I know for a fact that there are plenty of things that can kill cancer cells in a test tube. And I would also bet that many of these things are chemicals commonly found in foods.
Turmeric nor the curcumin contained within it cannot either cure all cancers. We would have beaten cancer a long while back if all we had to do to find a cure for the disease was find out what killed cells in a test tube. This may explain the flurry of interest without much in the way of real results. Though combining it with fats and piperine (found in black pepper) will help, it's also pretty hard for the human body to absorb.
From a health point of view of choosing fresh over powdered Turmeric comes in different forms, but there appears to be of no benefit how to buy it and where to use it.
There is reason enough to keep it in your diet due to its flavour and colour.