Bring on the spice! Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant that is likely helpful in the prevention of cancer, might also be used in the treatment of cancer, a recent study finds. This hard-to-say phytonutrient (take it one syllable at a time: cur-cu-min) is found in turmeric, a root that looks similar to ginger. While it can be used fresh, it is more commonly found dried and ground or in the spice “curry” (which is actually a combination of different spices, turmeric being one of them). Curcumin is easy to identify because it gives these spices their bright yellow-orange color.
Curcumin is an amazing antioxidant, but it’s also a potent anti-inflammatory, so since cancer is often caused by oxidative damage and inflammation, it’s a natural way to help stop inflammation. It also helps inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. One study states that it might have its most powerful effects along the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines and rectum).
Pharmaceutical companies are working to put together a pill that allows curcumin to be absorbed well. However, as with most phytonutrients, they may be best absorbed and utilized by the body just by including them in your diet, so get cooking! If your grocery store or Asian market sells fresh turmeric, you’re in luck. It looks like a smaller version of ginger with a darker outer skin and yellow-orange inside. Peel off the skin and mince into small pieces. If you can’t find it fresh, buy dried ground turmeric from the spice rack section.
- Turmeric or curry goes perfectly with eggs (egg salad, scrambled, omelets)
- Sprinkle on any steamed vegetable, baked potato, sweet potato
- Try these healthy recipes from Bon Appétit that feature turmeric: Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew or Country Captain with Cauliflower and Peas.
- Combine turmeric with black pepper. This study indicates it might increase absorption of curcumin.
Enjoy the new flavor and boost to your health!