The root of Curcuma longa is ground up to provide the yellow dye and flavor known as haldi in India and turmeric in the West.
Turmeric is cultivated in several countries in south east Asia, and is widely used as an appetite stimulant and digestive in various sauces, and as a rice colorant and a standard curry constituent, or as an inexpensive substitute for saffron.
The spice has become more popular recently as a source of the yellow turmerone, curcumin: this is believed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticholesterolemic properties.
Herbalists advise that turmeric be used to prevent heart disease and cancer, and to treat HIV infection and arthritis.
In Chinese medicine, it is used to control hemorrage, and to treat various diseases such as asthma and coryza.
Another problem turmeric is frequently used to relive is muscle aches and pains in addition to its support for inflamed joints and muscles. Combining turmeric with black pepper helps your body better absorb the turmeric. Consider trying the following Turmeric Lemon Pepper Tea! The pepper invigorates this tea while the honey sets off the acridness of the spice.
Turmeric Lemon Pepper Tea
1/3 cup organic raw honey
2-1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Using a mortar and pestle, work turmeric spice into the honey until a paste is formed. You can make this ahead of time to keep on hand. Store in a jar for whenever you'd like a cup.
For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of your turmeric paste into the bottom of a mug. Pour hot water (not boiling) into your mug; stir well until the turmeric paste is dissolved. Add a squeeze of lemon juice (best if fresh from a lemon), and as much black pepper as you think you can tolerate. Stir this tea as you are drinking it to keep the spices from settling to the bottom of your mug.
You could also make a similar but stronger paste:
Use 1 teaspoon tumeric, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon raw honey and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. To use, mix in a cup of hot water or milk.
Other ideas for the turmeric paste: Blend into smoothies, or swirl into yogurt.
Curcumin is often added to food products as a colorant and to prevent their spoilage by oxidation. Also note, due to this dying ability, turmeric likes to stain just about anything it comes into contact with, so be careful.
Although none of the alleged benefits have been adequately evaluated, turmeric and curcumin are increasingly being promoted as health products.
Most Indian stores sell turmeric, but it is mostly food color. To get the best possible flavor along with the best potential for health benefits, it truly is best to purchase fresh yellow turmeric root from India and make your own powder in small batches to use as needed. There is a HUGE difference in taste, smell, and color from the little bags you get in the Indian stores.
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