Nutrition: Is turmeric good for you?

Turmeric is a flowering plant from the ginger family, mostly used as a spice to give curry and sauces its yellow colour.

However, this is not the only use of this spice and nutritionists urge that turmeric is more than just a spice.

 

They say turmeric and its most active compound known as curcumin has many scientifically-proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer, as well as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

 

Joseph Uwiragiye, the head of nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), says what makes this spice unique is its diversity.

 

For instance, he says, it can be used in tea, in soups, and curry which not only adds colour but brings flavour to any stew.

In tea, he says, it has a unique but subtle flavour and that tea with turmeric is a great way to reap many of its benefits.

Fight against disease

Nutritionists say the primary active component of turmeric and the one that gives the spice its characteristic yellow colour is curcumin.

In fact, they say that one can credit curcumin as the compound responsible for most of turmeric’s potential health benefits.

When used in tea, Uwiragiye says turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory property, which can help ease inflammation and swelling in people with arthritis.

“This reduces painful symptoms, and is effective in reducing pain in patients with osteoarthritis,” he says.

Uwiragiye says turmeric tea has many medicinal properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

According to nutritionist, these properties contribute to cancer prevention.

Studies have shown that curcumin found in turmeric is an effective anti-carcinogen, a substance that helps prevent cancer.

Besides, Uwiragiye notes that the medicinal property in turmeric is able to boost the immune system, even in people with immune disorders.

“During this time when we are faced with the novel coronavirus, it’s essential for people to consume foods that help in boosting their immunity, and turmeric should be one of them. This is because it has been proven that the virus affects people with the low immune system more,” he says.

Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, says turmeric has the ability to lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol, thus can help reduce one’s risk of developing some serious conditions, including heart disease and stroke.

Musengimana says research shows that the curcumin found in turmeric may help prevent Alzheimer’s, and, turmeric’s antioxidants prevent damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s.

In soups and stews, Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, says the reason why it’s used in these soups is because it adds an element of tastiness to food.

However, he notes that turmeric can also play an important role in digesting food.

He explains that this is because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thus helping with healthy digestion.

He notes that it’s also used in some medicines as a digestive healing agent.

Meanwhile, studies have proven that curcumin in turmeric may help treat and prevent diabetes as well as associated disorders like diabetic nephropathy (also called diabetic kidney disease), which affects people with type 1 and 2 diabetes.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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