Ahhh, my favorite spice. It has the most delicious, complex flavor and amazing aroma of all spices. Little did I know just how jam-packed this tasty sensation is with numerous super beneficial elements!
Curry powder is most commonly associated with East Indian cuisine, but it is widely used in many cultures. For the longest time I thought that curry powder was just, well…curry powder! It surprised me to discover that it is a mixture of numerous spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, mustard seeds, and depending on where in the world it is made, it may contain dried red chilies, sweet basil, and red pepper. These are some of the most common ingredients, and while they each have their own health benefits, there are two that are commonly studied: turmeric and curcumin.
A member of the ginger family, turmeric comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant. It is responsible for the yellow color in curry powder (and yellow mustard). It has shown effectiveness in treating all sorts of ailments and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to treat inflammation and other related conditions. Turmeric has hundreds of potential side benefits, rather than the more known-to-be harmful side effects that pharmaceuticals have. When used in conjunction with turmeric, black pepper, which has its own wonderful benefits, enhances the bioavailability of turmeric.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound that is found in turmeric. An abstract published in “Anticancer Research” in January 2003 noted that extensive research during the past 50 years has indicated that curcumin can both prevent and treat cancer. Packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it is the most active component of turmeric. Studies are being conducted on curcumin on a regular basis. According to University of Washington’s integrative oncology information for clinicians, “It has become one of the most widely studied botanicals in the research on cancer. It’s safe for human consumption, and is recommended as anti-cancer therapy and to prevent cancer recurrences.” Curcumin’s anti-cancer potential comes from its ability to slow down the spread of a wide variety of tumor cells.” Isn’t nature amazing?
According to this article written by Sayer Ji of Green Med info, some of the most amazing demonstrated properties include:
- Turmeric Extract Kills Highly Lethal Pancreatic Tumors, Preclinical Study Reveals
- Turmeric & Alzheimer’s Disease
- Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective as 14 Drugs
Green Med info is a great health and wellness resource; I highly recommend you check them out.
Numerous supplements of both turmeric and curcumin are now available in many health-food stores and online. As with any supplement, it is advisable to check with your physician before making any additions or changes to your diet and/or medications. Any food is always best in its original, natural state with as little processing as possible.
When you have a little time, take a look through some of the references here, or just Google turmeric and curcumin for further articles and research.
Make Your Own Curry Powder
For me, measuring and mixing can be quite therapeutic. So here’s a pretty straight-forward recipe with ingredients that should be easy to find. Finding readymade curry powder in stores is usually no problem, if you prefer to go that route. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…buy organic whenever possible.
So as you can see, curry powder is packed with health benefits in addition to its scrumptious flavor and aroma, and we’ve talked about only two of the many ingredients! If you are a fan of East Indian cuisine, you are likely a curry powder fan. One of my most favorite ways to enjoy it is in soups. Lentils and curry powder – a match made in heaven.
Maybe you already make your own curry powder, or have a your own favorite go-to curry dish. If you’d like to share your recipe, send it to me and I’ll post it. Just be sure to include all of the ingredients and instructions, and a picture of the finished product too. As always, feel free to email me with comments, questions, or just to say howdy!
Sources and further info:
Dr. Michael Greger’s free site jam packed with tons of valuable info
Check out Dr. Weil’s article for information on possible drug interactions and other precautions with turmeric. http://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/curcumin-or-turmeric/
LiveStrong website with a plethora of health info.
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