Turmeric is a herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family that reaches a height of 1.5-2 meters. Turmeric leaves are oblong, oval, and green (dark or light) in color.
The plant grows well in mild climates with high humidity and temperatures not lower than 20 ° C, so the climate of the tropics and subtropics is best suited for turmeric. It is distributed in Southeast India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and China.
Indochina and India are considered to be the homeland of turmeric. Even 2500 years ago, people used it as a dye and as a medicinal plant. Alexander the Great was the first to take turmeric out of India as an expensive gift from the conquered peoples. Turmeric is called by many names. In the Middle Ages, Arab merchants called the plant “Indian saffron”. The Greeks and Indians called the spice “yellow ginger”, while the British and Western Europe called it “turmeric”.
Turmeric is a powdered spice with a pungent, sometimes burning taste and a pleasant yellow color. More than 80 different types of turmeric are known, but only a few are widely used. The natural dye curcumin, which is part of the tubers, gave the plant its name.
The composition of turmeric
Turmeric, the beneficial properties of which are undeniable, contains vitamins K, B, B1, B3, B2, and C and trace elements: calcium, iron, phosphorus, and iodine. However, since they are contained in microdoses (for example, 100 grams of turmeric contains only 0.15 mg of vitamin B1), it makes no sense to talk about the importance of these elements in a pinch of seasoning added to food. However, turmeric contains components that have a significant effect on the human body even in microscopic amounts. These are essential oils and their constituents sabinene, borneol, zingiberene, terpene alcohols, phellandrene, curcumin, and a number of other components.
Curcumin occupies a special place in this list. It is this substance that gives a yellow color to foods. Curcumin is used to make the food additive E100 (turmeric), which is often used by the food industry to produce mayonnaise, cheese, butter, margarine, and yogurt. Turmeric gives products a beautiful yellow hue and thus gives them an attractive presentation.
The beneficial effects of turmeric
Doctors have long been interested in the beneficial properties of curcumin. In the course of scientific experiments, it was found that curcumin causes the death of pathological tumor cells without affecting healthy cells.
Turmeric is very similar in its properties to ginger. It even has a second name – yellow ginger. This plant is especially useful for women, as it is used for cosmetic purposes to treat skin diseases. But its most important advantage is that turmeric is good for weight loss.
The curcumin contained in turmeric prevents the formation of adipose tissue. This plant is successfully used to reduce excess weight and treat obesity. This effect is achieved due to the fact that turmeric normalizes metabolism. It should be noted that the addition of turmeric to food promotes greater calorie burning and the removal of excess water from the human body, improves blood circulation, and all this helps to reduce weight.
According to the latest data, curcumin is involved in stimulating the gallbladder, which ultimately helps to improve digestion. It has also been proven that curcumin can be used in the treatment of digestive disorders, such as bloating or increased gas production.
Turmeric – use in cooking
Since turmeric is mainly used as a spicy spice, it has a corresponding taste: spicy, slightly burning. Turmeric prolongs the shelf life of products and gives them freshness. Even a small amount of it can add a unique taste and aroma to a dish, which is actively used in the preparation of various marinades, sauces, and desserts.
Everyone knows such a popular Indian spice blend as curry. It is a permanent fixture in the curry. Due to the presence of curcumin, a coloring agent that dissolves in fats, this spice is used in the food industry to give a certain color to yogurt, margarine, cheese, and butter. It colors dishes in a delicate yellow color. Turmeric is also added to various bulk mixtures, liqueurs and other drinks, salad sauces, and mustard sauces.
It should not be forgotten that turmeric has a lot of flavors and useful properties, so it is a full-fledged spice that perfectly combines and complements meat, fish, and vegetable dishes.
Contraindications to the use of turmeric
- Due to the strong effects of turmeric, it is not recommended to use it in parallel with medications so as not to distort the overall picture of the disease. Or use it after consulting a doctor.
- There are diseases for which it is not recommended to use at all – this as cholelithiasis.
- In any case, if you have chronic diseases, you should ask your doctor or nutritionist for advice when consuming spices.
And one more thing – no matter how useful this spice is, you should not overdo it: 1 teaspoon is enough for 5 or 6 servings of a dish.