We often include turmeric in our juice recipes, and with good reason. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing of a number of conditions and illnesses.
With the help from our friends at Body & Soul, we have listed out the top reasons why you should most definitely be including turmeric in your meals and juices.
Wards off Alzheimer's Disease
Turmeric contains the active ingredient known as curcumin (this is what gives it the distinct yellow colouring). Researchers believe that curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be strong enough to break down the amyloid plaques in the brain that contribute to Alzheimer's disease (more about the disease here). "If the blood vessels remain less clogged, then certain parts of the brain might be fed more easily with oxygen and that would keep the brain functioning better," explains Hourigan.
Helps to prevent cancer
In his book, The 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth (Fair Winds), nutritionist Jonny Bowden says there are at least 30 studies showing that curcumin may have an anti-tumour effect (when tested on animals) by "either reducing the number or size of tumours or the percentage of animals who developed them".
While more human research is needed, he points to a 2006 study showing that curcumin inhibited the growth of human colon cancer. A New Jersey study found that, when combined with vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, it may help treat and prevent prostate cancer.
There are also indications that it may help to prevent breast, skin and pancreatic cancer, childhood leukaemia and multiple myeloma. "While no one is claiming that turmeric cures cancer, there is plenty of reason to believe it is a useful adjunct to a healthy diet," says Bowden.
Reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes
Curcumin also has a positive effect on cholesterol, says Bowden, and animal studies have shown that it may help lower cholesterol and prevent the buildup of LDL ("bad" cholesterol) in the blood vessels. It could, therefore, stop the buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis) that can block arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes.
Combats inflammatory diseases
Turmeric's natural anti-inflammatory qualities mean it may work as well as some anti-inflammatory medications, without the side effects. Early research shows it may help with inflammation of the eye (uveitis), inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis) and multiple sclerosis.
One study, using a formula which contained turmeric, showed it reduced the pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis, but it hasn't yet been studied on its own.
Fights colds and flu
Preliminary studies show that turmeric may help reduce the severity of bacterial and viral infections.
Helps indigestion and weight loss
Curcumin stimulates the gallbladder and produces bile. Because bile helps digest fat, experts believe this improves digestion and may help control weight. At least one study found it treats indigestion, reducing symptoms of bloating and gas.
Assists diabetes sufferers
Turmeric may improve glucose control or insulin activity. In animal research, it was shown to cause blood sugar levels to drop. If you add turmeric to your diet, Hourigan suggests monitoring your blood sugars. When combined with diabetes medication, it may cause levels to drop too low, resulting in hypoglycemia.