Turmeric is a widely cultivated herbaceous plant with a vivid yellow-orange color, bright yellow flowers, a pepper-like aroma, and a slightly bitter taste. It is a member of the ginger family.
Native to southern India and Indonesia, the fleshy stem of the turmeric plant has long been used as a condiment and a yellow dye. It has been used in cooking since 600 B.C., and in Biblical times was used to make perfume.
Today its most common commercial use is to add flavor and color to food. It's a primary ingredient in mustard and gives American-style mustard its bright yellow color. Turmeric is used in relishes, pickles, spiced butters, and many other culinary products, and remains popular in East Indian cooking for curry preparations.
Curcumin is a pigment found in the stem of turmeric.
- Turmeric's antioxidant effects may contribute to brain health. A high intake of turmeric has been linked to brain health and functioning.
- Turmeric contains beneficial flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants) which help fight cell-damaging free radicals.
- Free radicals may contribute to the premature aging of cells, and to oxidative stress which in turn may contribute to the premature aging of cells.
- Turmeric has a long history of use in India.
- The turmeric plant contains several very important substances called curcuminoids and the principal curcuminoid is curcumin. Curcuminoids are plant-based antioxidants that fight free radicals.
- As you remember from earlier in the program, antioxidants are extremely handy things. They help protect the body against free radicals which attack cells. Free radicals which are produced by environmental factors such as car exhaust and smoking may contribute to the premature aging of cells. They may also contribute to oxidative stress, which in turn may contribute to premature cell aging.
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