Turmeric, which is often referred to as the “kitchen queen” in India, packs a powerful punch that benefits both your recipes and your health. In fact, modern researchers have deemed it “the super spice” because of its vast potential to boost your immune system and protect you from inflammatory diseases.   A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a perennial root plant with tufted leaves, tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh inside.  The root is dried completely and then ground so that it can be used for cooking.

This flavorful “super spice” has been used for centuries in India and Asia to prevent and treat a variety of physical ailments. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Recent studies suggest that curcumin may help stop the growth of cancer cells, reduce inflammation and help ward off the destructive brain plaque that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.

The fact that India produces nearly all of the world’s turmeric explains why many inflammatory diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer, are not as prevalent in that country. Because it is a natural detoxifier, curcumin helps protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs. It is high in iron and manganese and is also a good source of vitamin B6, fiber and potassium.

Like most natural products, turmeric is best when it can be purchased fresh and whole, but most supermarkets sell it in powdered form. If you do buy the powdered form, try to find an organic version that has not been irradiated. (Before you settle for the powdered form, check out Indian food markets and specialty food stores.)

It is very easy to introduce this spicy superstar into your everyday recipes. It has warm and aromatic essence and is very good on raw or steamed cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower. Turmeric is also very tasty when combined with yoghurt or when you use it in recipes for your favorite salad dressings. Any recipe that incorporates lentils will benefit from turmeric.

Because the curcumin component of turmeric is so important for good health many people take nutritional supplements containing curcumin.  Pain and Brain Plus™ Rescue Formula, which is available from the Institute for Vibrant Living, is a brain-boosting nutritional supplement that contains curcumin compounds, which come together to form the most powerful antioxidant phytonutrients on the market.

Turmeric is yet another example of Mother Nature’s health-giving superstars.  Invite India's beloved "kitchen queen" into your home and give your health the royal treatment. For added protection, consider adding curcumin supplements to your daily health regimen.