The root is widely used in Asian cuisine and is also known as a medicinal plant. As a spice, turmeric gives food a slightly bitter and somewhat pungent taste and a yellow color.
One effect is undisputed: turmeric colors strong and persistent yellow-orange. In addition, the plant is said to trigger numerous positive effects in the body and is now considered by many to be a superfood. Turmeric – also known as turmeric – is mainly known as an essential component of the spice mixture curry, which gives it its yellow color.
Mostly dried as spice powder in the trade
The trade offers turmeric mainly as a spice powder, which should be stored in a closed container in a dark and cool place. Otherwise, it will quickly lose its aroma. Its taste is not very strong, slightly bitter, and a little pungent. Turmeric is often on the list of ingredients in Asian dishes, often in conjunction with ginger.
As a saffron substitute for coloring food
Its strong coloring property can also be used – sparingly dosed – for other foods such as rice, noodles, or dough. It is sometimes used as a substitute for saffron. Since turmeric is not very water-soluble, the color only comes into its own when combined with fat. However, if it is heated too high – for example in hot oil – it turns brown and bitter.
Fresh turmeric root and ginger are similar
As a fresh product, turmeric is strongly reminiscent of ginger. The often bizarrely shaped side roots of the turmeric plant are also used. A juicy, fleshy plant fiber is hidden under the thin orange-brown skin of the so-called rhizomes. Turmeric is thinly peeled or scraped and finely grated. With organic goods, it is sufficient to wash the root thoroughly. If you do not wear gloves when processing, you risk yellowing the skin on your hands.
Curcumin: Healing agent and yellow pigment
In addition to color and flavor, turmeric is said to have numerous health-promoting effects. It has been scientifically proven to relieve mild gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas and bloating. The effect is mainly attributed to the substance curcumin, which is also responsible for the yellow color and is listed under the abbreviation E100 as a coloring additive.
Efficacy in diseases not sufficiently proven
Curcumin is also said to help with inflammatory diseases, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer and is good for the blood vessels. There is hardly any reliable evidence of such effects. Although laboratory and animal experiments pointed in this direction, the effect on humans has not been checked very much.
The intestine can only poorly absorb the active ingredient curcumin
One problem is that curcumin is hardly soluble in water. The intestine therefore only absorbs small amounts of the active ingredient, and much of it is excreted again. In order to achieve an effect, large amounts would have to be taken, a tea is hardly enough. However, the side effects of other medications cannot be ruled out. Oil and black pepper increase absorption.
Turmeric comes from tropical areas
The turmeric plant probably comes from India and has been valued as a spice and medicinal plant for thousands of years. The green needs a lot of heat and moisture to grow up to one meter high and forms small flowers of different colors depending on the variety. Of the numerous turmeric variants, Curcuma longa is mainly used as a spice plant.