Vedic India: Vibrant & Nutritious Turmeric

For more than 5,000 years, people in India and all over Asia have enjoyed turmeric for its color, flavor, and health benefits.
by on Monday, May 9, 2022

Turmeric: A Spice That Is Beautiful & Medicinal

Bright yellow turmeric powder from Shan Valley.

Turmeric or curcuma longa may be loved in India as much for its bright, yellow-orange color as its sharp flavor. Its aroma is slightly earthy, a bit citrusy, and has a hint of ginger. Turmeric grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia. The plant has glossy green leaves and white flowers and is a member of the ginger family. The actual spice powder comes from the root or the rhizome part of the plant. 

Turmeric is a common ingredient in curry powder. In India and in many other places, people use it with pickles, meat, fish, and vegetable and rice dishes. Its history dates back nearly 5,000 years. Since then, people in the Vedic culture have used turmeric to spice their foods. In general, no Indian recipe is complete without adding at least a pinch of turmeric. Because of its brilliant yellow color, many people consider turmeric the “Indian saffron.”  

Some spices and foods just belong together! And it’s more than just the flavor. Using turmeric can help retain the beta-carotene in certain foods. Beta-carotene gives foods like carrots and pumpkins their bright color and it offers many health benefits. The nutrient is good for lungs, skin, eyes, and hair. When you cook carrots and pumpkins with turmeric, the combined nutrients are stronger.  Plus, the colors together are more vibrant! 

The Many Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric root from Island Magic Fiji.

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that turmeric has many medicinal properties. According to the Ayurvedic thought, turmeric is capable of strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis.

Modern science is a fan of turmeric as well. The curcumin present in turmeric offers abundant health benefits. It is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antiseptic, and protects the heart, liver and kidneys.

Many scientific studies focused on the anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk, and detoxification efforts of turmeric. Now, new studies of turmeric are showing its potential for improving cognitive function, blood sugar balance, and kidney function, as well as lessening the degree of severity associated with certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.

What You Need to Know About Turmeric, Curcumin, & Black Pepper

Turmeric is best absorbed when consumed with black pepper. Since curcumin is fat soluble, our liver conjugates curcumin where it becomes water soluble and is excreted. The piperine in black pepper inhibits this process making curcumin more bioavailable.

Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects which neutralize free radicals. It also stimulates the antioxidant enzymes in the human body, which aid in delaying the aging process. 

Turmeric has many other uses as well–from oral health to skin and hair care. It prevents plaque and dental decay for the teeth and can prevent sunburn and protect from UV radiation for the skin. Turmeric can also help remove dandruff, and it generally improves the health of the scalp. It also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help in healing burns or cuts.

Turmeric is extensively used in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. 

Favorite Ways To Use Turmeric From Vedic India

Turmeric root harvest from Diaspora Co.

There are so many ways to use and cook with turmeric. Here are a few of our favorites. 

Turmeric Tea

This tea is a rejuvenating drink for the body. It boosts immunity and improves overall health. 

To make turmeric tea, just follow the simple recipe

Pour a cup of boiling water over: 

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • The juice of half a lemon 
  • A pinch of turmeric powder*
  • 1 teaspoon honey or liquid jaggery 

Mix well and let cool until it is the perfect temperature to sip and enjoy. 

*If available, you can substitute a teaspoon of dry turmeric leaf powder or 2 inch fresh cut up turmeric leaf.

Turmeric Milk

Another popular and nourishing drink from Vedic India is turmeric milk. You can use any kind of your favorite regular or plant-based milk here. 

Heat one cup of milk and add the following:

  • A dash of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 ground cardamom
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon honey or liquid jaggery 

Mix well and enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits and comforting taste of this drink. 

Turmeric for cough and colds

  1. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to hot water for steam inhalation.
  2. Add a tablespoon of turmeric powder to a one gallon room vaporizer along with four tablespoons of salt to get maximum benefit of the steam.

Since ancient times, turmeric has been used in India and other Asian countries as a spice and as a medicine. Modern science has reinforced these ancient practices by finding many pharmaceutical uses of curcumin against numerous human ailments. By spicing up our daily cuisine, we can prevent and cure many of these ailments. 

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Rani Vasireddy is Producers Market India Business Development Consultant based in Houston, Texas. She runs an NPO and works with tribal farmers in India and another NPO in the U.S. that promotes meditation and herbal remedies.

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