What is turmeric and why is it so beneficial to health?

Turmeric is an herbaceous perennial plant, reaching a height of up to 1 meter (3.2 feet). With very branched rhizomes, yellow to orange, cylindrical and aromatic. The leaves are arranged in two rows. They are divided into leaf sheath, petiole and leaf blade.

From the pods, a false stem is formed. The petiole is 50 to 115 cm long (19.6 to 45.2 inches). The simple foliar leaves are usually 76 to 115 cm (30 to 45.2 inches) long, although they can rarely reach up to 230 cm (7.5 feet). They have a width of 38 to 45 cm (15 to 18 inches) and are oblong to an elliptical narrowing at the apex.

Turmeric is a plant that is cultivated in tropical zones, but it is its root from which the condiment or the orange golden dye is extracted. It is usually boiled and then dried in the sun and ground to obtain such a traditional powder that it cannot be missing in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine.

Golden milk is one of many recipes from South Asia that are gaining popularity in the West. With a bright golden colour and an intense flavour, it is not complicated to prepare and it is spreading more and more all over the coffee shops of the world. Its supposed health benefits are those that are encouraging many to try it. But what exactly is golden milk and how nutritious is it?

The star ingredient in its preparation is turmeric, also called toothpick in Peru and Bolivia, root saffron in Colombia, yuquilla in Cuba and jengibrillo in Puerto Rico. It is best known for its use in curry preparation. It has become one of the world's fashion condiments and is making its way into Latin American kitchens.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

One of the potential benefits of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties, as nutritionist Jo Lewin explained in an article published in BBC Good Food.

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric have been compared to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [such as ibuprofen or aspirin]. Clinical trials have concluded that it is more effective than a placebo in relieving pain and swelling in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, more well-designed clinical research is needed to determine and document its efficacy.

Several studies attribute antioxidant properties and benefits in controlling anxiety and metabolic syndrome, as well as relieving muscle pain. They also say that those without diagnosed health problems can benefit from taking them in small doses.

Although, as a report published in 2017 by scientists at Central Michigan University and Nova Southeastern University points out, ingesting polyphenol curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is not enough to benefit from these effects because of its "malabsorption, rapid metabolism and rapid elimination. But experts say this can be improved by combining it with other agents such as piperine, present in black pepper, which in turn is another ingredient in golden milk.

Ginger and cinnamon

Another potentially beneficial agent in turmeric is turmerone. Although much less is known about turmerone compared to curcumin, it can be obtained from whole ground turmeric. Some studies suggest that it may be good for cognitive performance because of its neuroprotective properties.

Golden milk, as its name suggests, also carries milk, although some trade it for some vegetable substitute. Most golden milk recipes include cinnamon and ginger, also known as kion in some countries. Included in infusions, ginger is diaphoretic, meaning it warms the body and makes it sweat. It also has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its active gingerol and helps reduce symptoms such as dizziness and nausea and relieve stomach aches.

Cinnamon is also credited with health benefits, which is why it is so widely used in Chinese herbal medicine. Cinnamon extract has been used to alleviate gastrointestinal problems in Eastern and Western medicine for years. The heat from cinnamon is believed to increase blood flow and improve oxygen levels in the blood to help fight disease.

Source BBC Mundo

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