The Hidden Health Benefits of Turmeric

Every time you slather mustard on your hotdog or hamburger, you just may be helping to prevent Alzheimer’s or arthritis. The reason is that the humble spice turmeric, routinely added to mustard to give the condiment it signature yellow color, has been shown to have powerful curative properties.

Turmeric is a rhizome, like ginger, and in its native India, where people cook with it daily, the rate of Alzheimer’s in people in their 70’s is among the lowest in the world. Studies are now being conducted on turmeric’s prevention of Alzheimer’s, as well as its effectiveness as a treatment for people who already suffer from symptoms of the disease.

In addition to being a possible preventative of Alzheimer’s, turmeric is being studied as a preventative and even cure for certain types of cancers. Tests have also shown that turmeric is effective in preventing and treating arthritis, and it’s being tested for its beneficial effects in instances of cystic fibrosis, diabetes, psoriasis, and lowering cholesterol.

So, what makes turmeric such a magical healing substance? It contains something called curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory. Because inflammation is a contributor to so many diseases, including Alzheimer’s and arthritis, the curcumin in turmeric is a precious find.

Now that you know why turmeric is such a good ingredient to incorporate into your diet, you may want to know how to cook with it. The key to using turmeric is to incorporate a modest amount of it into your daily cooking. You only need a small amount, as turmeric has a deep mineral taste that is slightly sweet and very earthy. Add no more than a teaspoon to soup, stew, chili, or a marinade. Cooking mellows the flavor of turmeric, but you can even add a pinch of it to uncooked foods like salad dressing or a smoothie without affecting the taste.

As a rule, turmeric works well with in Indian recipes. Here is a simple recipe for red lentil soup flavored with turmeric. Put a different spin on this soup by adding a cup of chopped fresh vegetables, a few handfuls of leafy greens such as spinach, or a cup of a cooked grain like rice or quinoa.

Red Lentil Soup with Turmeric

Serves 4


2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 small yellow onion, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cup red lentils

1 teaspoon salt

1 lime, cut into quarters

1/2 cup plain yogurt


In a soup pot, heat the coconut oil on medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric, lentils, and salt, and cook for one minute more.

Add 5 cups water and bring to the boil. Decrease the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have cooked into a puree, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Top each serving with the juice of 1/4 lime and a dollop of yogurt.

What's Fresh from @RachaelRay