A relative of ginger, this vivid yellow-orange spice is common in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking. It’s also been used as medicine in places like India for centuries to treat issues such as breathing problems. Lately, turmeric has been touted as a super food that can fight cancer, ease depression, and more. Find out what turmeric can — and can’t — do for your health.
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
Recently, science has started to back up what Indians have known for a long time — it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties (1Trusted Source).
These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high. It’s around 3%, by weight (2Trusted Source).
Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day.
It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.
Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, you need to take a supplement that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
Turmeric and especially its most active compound curcumin have many scientifically-proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.