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Turmeric nutrition facts

Never mind if you have your clothes stained turmeric, but make sure you add this exotic root-herb in the food you eat! It is actually an underground rhizome (root). It composes of unique phyto-chemical pigment compounds that impart intense flavor, color, and distinctive fragrance to the recipes it added to.

Binomially, root-turmeric belongs to the ginger or Zingiberaseae family of root herbs, in the genus; Curcuma. Scientific name: Curcuma longa. Its roots as well as leaves have long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines for their demonstrated anti-inflammatory (painkiller), anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer properties.

Turmeric roots attached stem
Turmeric rhizome fingers atatched to stem.

Turmeric is native to sub-Himalayan mountain region and grown widely in many parts of the tropical and subtropical regions as an important commercial crop. The plant grows to a meter in height and features aromatic, miniature plantain-like leaves.

turmeric plant Fresh turmeric rhizome
Turmeric plant. Fresh turmeric root.

Turmeric root features dark brown skin on the exterior and deep orange-yellow flesh internally. Its leaves as well as rhizome features unique flavor and fragrance. Its taste is described as mild peppery to warm and bitter while its fragrance is sweet and pleasant, slightly reminiscent of a mix of orange-zest, and ginger to which it is related. Once harvested, the root is boiled, dried, and ground to prepare distinctive bright yellow spice powder.

Turmeric plants produce no seeds, and only reproduce via its underground spreading rhizomes.

Health benefits of Turmeric

  • Turmeric has been in use since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory (painkiller), carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties.

  • The herb contains health benefiting essential oils such as termerone, curlone, curumene, cineole, and p-cymene.

  • Curcumin, a poly-phenolic compound in the root, is the principal pigment that imparts deep orange color to the turmeric. In vitro as well as in laboratory animal studies have suggest that the curcumin may have anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-amyloid, anti-ischemic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • This popular herb contains no cholesterol; however, it is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels.

  • It is very rich source of many essential vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), choline, niacin, and riboflavin, etc. 100 g herb provides 1.80 mg or 138% of daily-recommended levels of pyridoxine. Pyridoxine is employed in the treatment of homocystinuria, sideroblastic anemia and radiation sickness. Niacin helps prevent "pellagra" or dermatitis.

  • Fresh root contains very good levels of vitamin-C. 100 of root compose of 23.9 mg of this vitamin. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful natural anti-oxidant, which helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, and remove harmful free oxygen radicals.

  • Turmeric contains very good amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is utilised by the human body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome oxidase enzymes at cellular level metabolisms and required for red blood cell (RBC's) productions.

Turmeric is one of the readily available, cheap herbs that contain notable phyto-nutrients profile. At 1,59,277 µmol TE/100 g, its total-ORAC value or anti-oxidant strength is one of the highest among known herb and spice species.

100 g of turmeric provides 53% of dietary fiber, (% of Recommended Daily Allowance, RDA per 100 g)
138 % of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
32% of niacin,
43 % of vitamin C,
21 % of vitamin E,
54 % of potassium,
517 % of iron,
340 %of manganese and
40 % of zinc.
but 0% cholesterol.

Just a few grams of turmeric per day either in the form of powder, crushed root or fresh root can provide enough nutrients to help you keep away from anemia, neuritis, memory disorders and offer protection against cancers, infectious diseases, high blood pressure, and strokes.

Medicinal uses

  • Research studies have suggested that Curcumin, a poly-phenolic compound, found in this herb may inhibit the multiplication of tumor cells, including multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer.

  • It contains health benefiting essential oils such as termerone, curlone, curumene, cineole, and p-cymene. These compounds have applications in cosmetic industry.

  • Curcumin, along with other antioxidants, has been found to have anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus; it is effective in preventing or at least delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • The root herb contains no cholesterol; however, it is rich in anti-oxidants, and dietary fiber. Together, they help control blood cholesterol levels, offer protection from coronary artery disease and stroke risk.

  • Early laboratory studies have been suggestive that turmeric is liver protective, anti-depressant, anti-retroviral effects.

  • It has been in use since a very long ago as an important ingredient in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicines for its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, carminative, and anti-flatulent properties. (Medical disclaimer).

Selection and storage

Turmeric-Dry root Turmeric-powder
Turmeric roots-dried. Turmeric-powder.

Turmeric plant can be easily grown at your home garden or as a potherb so that its fresh root and leaves can be readily available for use as and when required.

In the herb store and local markets, fresh as well as dry turmeric horns can be readily found. Otherwise, one may choose packed turmeric powder from the authentic manufactures (since adulteration is not uncommon). Whenever possible, try to buy branded organic product which will give you some sort of assurance that it has not been irradiated and free from pesticide residues.

Fresh roots can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month or so. Its powder, however, should be stored inside the refrigerator in airtight containers.

Culinary uses

Turmeric powder has been in use as a food colorant, natural food preservative, and flavor base since ancient times. It is traditionally recognized as "Indian saffron" since its deep yellow-orange color is quite similar to that of the prized saffron.

Wash fresh roots in cold running water or rinse for few minutes to remove any sand, grit, soil or pesticide residues. Fresh powder can be prepared at home with the following simple steps: first, the root is boiled in the water, dried under sun, and then ground to get flavorful yellow colored powder.

In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, it is generally added at the last moment in the cooking recipes since prolonged cooking would result in evaporation of its essential oils.

It is essential to be watchful while handling turmeric since its pigments can easily stain clothes and kitchen walls. To avoid a lasting stain, immediately wash any area with soap and water.

Here are some serving tips:

  • It is a natural food preservative. The paste is used to marinate fish, chicken, and meat to enhance shelf life; and particularly to offset stingy smell of fish.

  • In India, sun dried roots mixed with other spices, curry leaves, peppers, etc., and then gently roasted and ground to prepare a curry-masala powder.
  • Turmeric powder complements well with any vegetable or meat preparations and mixes nicely with other spicy powders and herbs, enhancing overall flavor and fragrance of the dishes.

  • It has been used in the preparations of soups, salad dressings and has been found application in food industry like canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, etc.

  • Turmeric-tea is a popular drink in Okinawan population and in many Asian countries.

  • Turmeric leaves are added to flavor sweet dishes (rice-milk payasam) and ghee (melted butter) in some parts of South India, Thailand and other South Asian regions.

<<-Back to Herbs from Turmeric. Visit here for an impressive list of healthy herbs with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts, medicinal properties, and health benefits.

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Further resources:

1. USDA National Nutrient database.

2. Curcumin: FAO-Pdf.

3. Curcumin: An Anti-Inflammatory Molecule from a Curry Spice on the Path to Cancer Treatment-Pdf.

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