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Turmeric nutrition facts

Never mind if you have to stain your clothes turmeric stained, but make sure you add this exotic root-herb in the recipes. The golden yellow root herb contains many noteworthy plant derived chemical compounds that are found to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.

Its herb part is actually the underground rhizome (root). It has long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines for its demonstrated anti-inflammatory (painkiller), anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer properties.

Binominally, this popular herb belongs to the ginger or Zingiberaseae family of root herbs and the genus; Curcuma. Scientific name: Curcuma longa.

The herb is native to sub-Himalayan mountain region and now grown widely in many parts of the tropical and subtropical regions as an important commercial crop. The plant grows to a meter in length and bears aromatic miniature plantain like leaves.

Its root features dark brown skin on the exterior and deep orange-yellow flesh internally. The leaves as well as root feature unique flavor and fragrance. Taste is described as mild peppery to warm and bitter while its fragrance is sweet and mild slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger to which it is related. Once harvested, the root is boiled, dried, and ground to make the distinctive bright yellow spice, turmeric powder.

Turmeric plants produce no seeds, and only reproduce via its rhizomes.

Health benefits of Turmeric

  • The root has been in use since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory (painkiller), carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties.

  • The herb contains many health benefiting essential oils such as termerone, curlone, curumene, cineole, and p-cymene.

  • Curcumin, a poly-phenolic compound, is the principal pigment that imparts deep orange color to the turmeric. In vitro and animal studies have suggested the curcumin may have anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-amyloid, anti-ischemic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • This popular herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels.

  • It is very rich source of many essential vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin-6), choline, niacin, and riboflavin etc, which are essential for optimum health. 100 g herb provides 1.80 mg or 138% of daily-recommended levels of pyridoxine. Pyridoxine is used in the treatment of homocystinuria, sideroblstic anemia and radiation sickness. Niacin helps prevent "pellagra" or dermatitis.

  • Fresh root contains very good levels of vitamin-C. It is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful natural anti-oxidant; helps body develop immunity against infectious agents, helps fight type-1 diabetes and remove harmful free oxygen radicals from the body.

  • Turmeric contains very good amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome oxidase enzymes at cellular level metabolisms and required for red blood cells productions.

This incredible, one of the very cheap herbs is readily available and contains many quality phyto-nutrients profile. At 159277 µmol TE/100 g, its total-ORAC value or anti-oxidant strength is one of the highest among known herbs and spices.

100 g of turmeric provides (% of RDA per 100 g): 53 % of dietary fiber,
138 % of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
32% of niacin,
43 % of vitamin C,
21 % of vitamin E,
54 % of potassium,
517 % of iron,
340 %of manganese and
40 % of zinc.
but 0% cholesterol.

Just a few grams of turmeric per day either in the form of powder, crushed root or fresh roots can provide enough nutrients to help you keep away from anemia, neuritis, memory disorders and offers protection against cancers, infectious diseases, high blood pressure and strokes.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Nutritive Value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 354 Kcal 17%
Carbohydrates 64.9 g 50%
Protein 7.83 g 14%
Total Fat 9.88 g 33%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 21 g 52.5%

Folates 39 µg 10%
Niacin 5.140 mg 32%
Pyridoxine 1.80 mg 138%
Riboflavin 0.233 mg 18%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 25.9 mg 43%
Vitamin E 3.10 mg 21%
Vitamin K 13.4 µg 11%

Sodium 38 mg 2.5%
Potassium 2525 mg 54%

Calcium 183 mg 18%
Copper 603 µg 67%
Iron 41.42 mg 517%
Magnesium 193 mg 48%
Manganese 7.83 mg 340%
Phosphorus 268 mg 38%
Zinc 4.35 mg 39.5%

Selection and storage

Turmeric plant can be easily grown at your home garden or as a potherb so that fresh roots and leaves are made available for use whenever the need rises.

In the herb store, however, fresh rhizomes are rarely available; in that case, choose turmeric powder from the authentic manufactures since adulteration is not uncommon. Whenever possible, try to buy organic brand since this will give you some assurance that it has not irradiated and free from pesticide residues.

Fresh roots can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month or so. Powder should however, be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers.

Culinary uses

Turmeric powder has been in use as a food colorant, natural food preservative and flavor base since ancient times. It is traditionally recognized as "Indian saffron" since its deep yellow-orange color is quite similar to that of the prized saffron.

Wash fresh root in cold running water or rinse for few minutes to remove any sand, soil or pesticide residues. Fresh powder can be prepared at home with the following simple steps: first the root is boiled in the water, dried and then ground to get flavorful yellow colored powder.

In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, it is generally added at the last moment in the cooking recipes, because prolonged cooking may results in evaporation of essential oils.

It is essential to be careful when using turmeric since its pigments can easily stain clothes and kitchen walls. To avoid a lasting stain, immediately wash any area with which it has made contact with soap and water.

Here are some serving tips:

  • It is a natural food preservative. The paste is used to marinate fish, chicken, meat to enhance its shelf life and to offset stingy smell of fish.

  • In India, dried roots mixed with other spices, curry leaves, peppers etc, gently roasted and ground to prepare curry powder.
  • Its powder complements well with any vegetable or meat preparations and mix well with other spicy powders and herbs, enhancing the flavor and fragrance of the dishes.

  • It has been used in the preparations of soups, salad dressings and has been found application in food industry like canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, etc.

  • Turmeric-tea is a popular drink in Okinawan population and in many Asian countries.

  • Turmeric leaves are added to flavor sweet dishes (rice-milk payasam) and ghee (melted butter) in some parts of South India, Thailand and other South Asian regions.

Medicinal uses

  • Research studies have suggested that Curcumin, a poly-phenolic compound, found in this herb may inhibit the multiplication of tumor cells including multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer.

  • It contains many health benefiting essential oils such as termerone, curlone, curumene, cineole, and p-cymene. These compounds have applications in cosmetic industry.

  • Curcumin, along with other antioxidants, has been found to have anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus; is effective in preventing or at least delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • This root herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood cholesterol levels, preventing coronary artery disease and stroke risk.

  • Early laboratory studies have been suggestive that turmeric is liver protective, anti-depressant, anti-retroviral effects.

  • It has been in use since a very long ago as an important ingredient in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicines for its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties.

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