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Turmeric Benefits: Why You Need to Add This Spice to Your Diet

Turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and India. Here’s what you need to know to reap the benefits of this ancient spice.

Yellow turmeric powder in a jar and spoon with pieces of turmeric on a table.

A spice commonly used in curries and distinctly vibrant in colour, turmeric belongs to the ginger family and is a native plant to South Asia. In different parts of the world, turmeric benefits are thought to aid in menstruation, breaking Blood Stasis, and relieving pain. Other cultures use this spice for pain relief, whitening, and firming of the skin.

In addition to its significance in the Middle East, South Asia, and South Africa (to name a few) as part of their cuisines, turmeric has also been used as a traditional medicine for centuries.  

Both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine believe that turmeric benefits your health in various ways. The spice can be used as a natural remedy to aid with certain problems due to its pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant functions. 

The Benefits of Turmeric 

Turmeric contains curcumin – an active ingredient that’s a strong antioxidant and includes powerful anti-inflammatory effects. It can help with improving heart health, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and even cancers, which is why the herb is so popular.

In TCM, turmeric (jiang huang, 姜黄) has a warm nature with a bitter taste. This herb invigorates the blood, clears the meridians, expels Wind, and supports the flow of qi. TCM mostly uses turmeric for treating menstrual problems, such as dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea (the absence of menstruation), abdominal pain, and bloating. In addition, turmeric can help solve issues caused by Wind-Damp syndrome, which include joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, stiff muscles, and tingling limbs

However, TCM physicians would not prescribe turmeric to a pregnant patient or someone with signs of Blood Deficiency. To avoid any side effects, it’s best to consult a professional TCM practitioner before taking it as a medicinal herb. 

Aside from the abovementioned turmeric benefits, several studies have found more significance in this bright yellow herb: 

1. Reduces cardiovascular risk 

Curcumin regulates cholesterol, improves the condition of vascular inflammation, promotes the metabolism of fatty acids, and reduces the formation of low-density cholesterol and triglycerides. It also improves the function of your body’s blood vessels’ lining.

2. Improves liver function 

Studies on curcumin have shown its anti-inflammation effects. It can protect the liver and prevent it from further damage. The antioxidants in curcumin contain properties that prevent toxins such as alcohol or aflatoxin from harming the organ. 

Additionally, curcumin may stimulate the contraction of the gallbladder, making the process of secretion easier. 

3. Prevents dementia 

According to a journal published by The National Library of Medicine, the chemical properties of curcumin can improve cognitive functions in patients with dementia. This is because it can stimulate the activity of the immune system and decompose beta-amyloid protein while protecting brain cells and nerves, therefore improving brain function and preventing dementia. 

4. Improves osteoarthritis 

Its super-antioxidant effect can relieve swelling, redness, and pain caused by arthritis. As stated in a Japanese study, taking a daily dose of curcumin (180mg) for six months can significantly reduce pain while improving a patient’s quality of life.

5. Inhibits fat growth 

Curcumin can suppress body fat by reducing its growth and promoting fat cell metabolism. It also reduces the accumulation of body fat because it regulates sugar levels and further prevents insulin resistance. 

Despite the advantages that come along with using turmeric, the spice should be used with caution by those with: 

  • Bile duct obstruction 
  • Long-term use of anticoagulant medicine 
  • Bleeding disorders 

As a fat-soluble nutrient, curcumin is better absorbed when compounded with oil. Due to this, it is suggested to add turmeric to soups and dishes rather than eating it solo.

Adding Turmeric to your Diet

A cup of golden milk made with turmeric, cinnamon, and star anise.
Turmeric benefits your skin, digestion, and overall health. Plus, it’s safe for children!

One way to integrate turmeric into your diet is by switching your regular black coffee with a turmeric latte. It is completely safe, promotes the absorption of curcumin, and can improve your health over time. 

The ingredients you’ll need are: 

  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder or turmeric root (3cm wide slices) 
  • 1 slice of ginger or ¼ tsp of ginger powder 
  • 1 tsp of honey 
  • ½ tsp of ground cinnamon 
  • 500ml of milk – this can be substituted with oat milk, coconut milk, or almond milk 

And the instructions are as follows: 

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  2. After blending, pour the contents into a pot and heat until slightly hot to drink.  
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon powder on top to serve. 

Other ways to add this spice to your diet include in smoothies and soups. You can also add a dash to your scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables, and rice. 

With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric benefits your health in the long term. With just a pinch, it’ll add spice to your life and help you live longer.

This is an adaptation of the article, “姜黄的5大保健功效,不可不知!”, which first appeared on the Health123 website.

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