How can I incorporate turmeric into my daily diet?

I had a patient ask me this very question! Turmeric is a hot topic and the health benefits are fantastic. For those of you that do not know, turmeric comes from the root of the plant Curcuma longa. Turmeric is used to add color and flavor to prepared mustard, chutneys, relish, and vegetable dishes. Curcumin is one of the principal healthful components of turmeric, comprising 2% to 5% of most turmeric preparations and giving the spice its characteristic yellow color. Turmeric has long been used as an anti-inflammatory agent in Chinese and Italian medicine. Lately there has been much more research looking at the potential health benefits of turmeric on many disease states including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The main question I get when it comes to turmeric is not generally about the specific health benefits but rather, “how do I incorporate turmeric into my diet?” Many of my patients want to take turmeric supplements because they have no idea how to consume it in their diet. To this I generally remind my patients that dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Because of this, there are some concerns with the overall safety and purity of supplements. And turmeric supplements may have some side effects and people should speak with their doctor before using this supplement. For example, turmeric may be associated with lowering blood sugar levels. A person with diabetes may be at risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) if they are using turmeric supplements in addition to taking their diabetic medication. Because of this, the best bet would be to try to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet.

One way to use turmeric would be to make it into a paste. Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD suggests that you combine ground turmeric, extra virgin coconut oil, cinnamon and black pepper. It can be combined with almond milk and along with a little honey and ginger it makes a delicious golden beverage. Ground turmeric can season many savory dishes including: eggs, soups and stews, vegetable/rice stir fry, and it can be added to vinaigrettes and to oil or butter for color and flavor. Combine it with onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or bouillon cubes for a smoky and rich seasoning that your family will love. Keep in mind that it should be added gradually. The cooking process can increase the overall intensity of turmeric so add a little at a time and taste as you go!

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