Turmeric is a plant from the ginger family, which is widely used as a condiment in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The spice is produced from the roots of the plant (in powder form) and has bright yellow-orange color, slightly bitter flavor, and earthy aroma. It is famous for its wide set of healthy properties and its application in Ayurvedic therapies and traditional Indian medicine.
Blood sugar support, cholesterol balance, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect are only 4 of the many health properties associated with turmeric.
This article will guide you through 10 evidence-based health benefits of turmeric!
Let’s get started!
- Why is turmeric healthy?
- Health benefits of turmeric
- Side effects of turmeric
If you are diagnosed with a certain health condition, consult your healthcare provider whether turmeric consumption/supplementation is suitable for you.
Why is turmeric healthy?
The key compound in turmeric is curcumin, which is a natural anti inflammatory compound, generally associated with the positive health effects of the spice.  An interesting thing to mention is that piperine (compound naturally found in black pepper) may significantly boost the absorption of curcumin in the body. So if you aim for optimal absorption, it can be a good idea to look for a curcumin supplement that also contains piperine.
According to the website Nutrition Data, 1 tablespoon of turmeric is abundant in the following micronutrients  :
- Vitamin C (3% of DV)
- Vitamin B6 (6% of DV)
- Iron (16% of DV)
- Magnesium (3% of DV)
- Potassium (5% of DV)
- Manganese (26% of DV)
Besides, the same amount of turmeric has 1.4 grams of dietary fiber, which is about 6% of the recommended daily fiber intake.
Health benefits of turmeric
The health benefits of turmeric consumption/supplementation are mainly related to the nutritional profile of the spice.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Quality suggests that turmeric is a natural source of antioxidant compounds (polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, and ascorbic acid). This way, turmeric may act as an antioxidant to inhibit free radicals’ damage in the body and protect the cells from further negative impact. 
Anti Inflammatory properties
According to a 2014 review paper published in the Molecules Journal, curcumin found in turmeric could effectively act against inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of developing inflammatory conditions. The source also suggests that turmeric’s strong anti-inflammatory properties could be used for therapeutic purposes against various neurological diseases (like Parkinson’s disease) and depression. 
Improve symptoms of inflammatory conditions
Health benefits of turmeric directly associated with the herb’s anti-inflammatory effect are improved symptoms of health conditions caused by or related to inflammatory processes.
2017 review paper published in the Foods Journal notes that curcumin intake may positively affect chronic diseases like  :
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cerebral injury
- Cardiovascular disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Renal ischemia
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome AIDS
Improve physical performance
The same source suggests that curcumin consumption may provide quicker muscle soreness relief (compared to no curcumin intake), boost post-workout recovery in active individuals, and improve their physical performance (and durability) when exercising. 
Balance cholesterol profile
A 2020 review paper published in the Nutrition Today Journal suggests that supplementation with curcuminoids (curcumin formulation) may improve cholesterol profile by decreasing total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as triglyceride levels in the blood. Yet, curcumin is highly unlikely to increase HDL (good) cholesterol. 
However, the source warns that more research is needed to support these claims (as evidence is still inconsistent) and define effective and safe doses of curcuminoids supplementation.
Blood sugar control
There is weak and still inconsistent evidence that turmeric powder and curcumin extracts supplementation may decrease blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in prediabetic individuals. Yet, there is a certain degree of likelihood that turmeric intake may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes development and beneficially impact insulin resistance patients. 
A 2020 review paper looking at curcumin’s health properties suggests that intake of 1.6 grams of curcumin for one month may support weight loss, reduce body fat percentage, and lower BMI index.  However, still more research is needed to verify these claims.
Benefit from integrated and personalized approach to nutrition, health, fitness and healing. Check out the schedule for booking online yoga and barre classes (Virtual classes, private sessions, recordings available), or book a nutrition consultation on Annetteoneillwellness.com!
Evidence suggests that curcumin supplementation may improve allergy symptoms (including dermatitis, asthma, and other types of allergies) by suppressing histamine production in the body and reducing inflammation caused by allergic reactions. Yet, more research is needed to fully support these claims. 
Enhanced brain function
According to a 2019 study, 12-week supplementation with highly bioavailable curcumin extracts may improve the mood and working memory of healthy older adults.  Furthermore, other pieces of evidence claim that 4-week long supplementation with such extracts may boost alertness and contentedness. 
The above-mentioned sources also emphasize the potential mood-modulating properties of highly bioavailable curcumin supplements. These claims are also supported by a 2018 18-weeks long study conducted on non-demented adults, which found potential behavioral and cognitive benefits of curcumin intake associated with both mood and memory improvement.
According to an article in the Oregon State University, while curcumin (and turmeric powder) intake may inhibit cancer development in animal studies, there is still very little evidence suggesting the compound prevents cancer in humans. 
That being said, the source notes that combining curcumin with anticancer drugs could be beneficial and well-tolerated in patients with pancreatic and breast cancer, as well as chronic myeloid leukemia. Yet, this evidence is still inconclusive, and the safety and efficacy of such supplementation are not defined.
Side effects of turmeric
What is important to mention here, is that while many research papers have looked into the health effects of the spice, the majority of these studies are challenged by the unstable bioactive compounds found in turmeric (like curcumin), which easily change into other substances and are difficult to track. This makes the studies on turmeric inconclusive, as they only suggest potential health effects of supplementation/consumption of the spice. 
Turmeric consumption and supplementation is generally found to be safe when taken in recommended doses (consult your healthcare provider for advice on a dose suitable for you and your health condition). 
Besides, according to an article from the Ohio State University, while taking up to 4 grams of curcumin per day is generally safe, it can interact with certain medications and make them toxic. Such medications may include anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs (aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), enoxaparin (Lovenox), and heparin). 
Important note: if you take certain medicines AND curcumin, consult your healthcare provider whether curcumin interacts with drugs you take and whether supplementation with this compound is safe for your health condition.