What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, has been grown in India for thousands of years, commonly used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicinal practices to treat pain, digestion issues and inflammation. Turmeric has a warm, earthy flavour and aroma, with hints of citrus and ginger. High-quality fresh turmeric can be quite pungent on its own but becomes mellower when cooked, particularly in combination with other spices.
Powdered turmeric is more commonly used in cooking than fresh and retains much of its medicinal properties. It has traditionally been used in Indian curries for centuries to provide a vibrant orange-yellow hue as well as a slightly tangy taste. It pairs well with other spices like ginger, cardamom, cumin, coriander and cinnamon. The plant compounds in turmeric become more bioavailable when consumed with black pepper and when mixed with natural fats like coconut milk, cream or ghee.
What Is Ginger?
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) from the Zingiberaceae family, has been widely cultivated in India and China, with uses in Chinese medicine that date back hundreds of years to treat pain, inflammation, nausea and respiratory illness. Southeast Asia was the original epicentre of ginger's emergence. From here, it promptly spread to India and eventually made its way through Europe during the medieval period.
Ginger is a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes with a distinct, warm and slightly spicy flavour with hints of citrus and pepper. Ginger is also known for its sweet aroma and lemony colour, which comes from its polyphenol profile. Fresh ginger is usually stronger than powdered or dry ginger. Naked ginger, glacé ginger or crystallised ginger are all delicious confectionaries with a mellow yet sharp sweetness. Most forms of ginger have therapeutic value and can be used for a multitude of health conditions.
Phytochemical Compounds in Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric and ginger contain a wide variety of active plant compounds, which have potent effects, benefiting many conditions in human health.
Polyphenols in Turmeric
- Vitamin C
Polyphenols & Nutrients in Ginger
- Vitamins A and C
Health Benefits of Turmeric and Ginger
The combination of turmeric and ginger offers an incredible amount of potential health benefits. Consuming these two ingredients together can help reduce inflammation and associated pain, support heart health, improve digestion and have therapeutic benefits in cancer therapy.
Let's take a look at some research on the health benefits of turmeric and ginger.
Ginger Alleviates Nausea & Respiratory Symptoms
An exploration by Swiss researchers has revealed that the acute consumption of ginger can help alleviate symptoms like nausea and digestive discomfort in cancer patients, with just 1 gram daily.
For centuries, ginger has been administered to support the respiratory system and combat colds and flu. Notably, its gingerol component is a polyphenol that significantly alleviates allergy symptoms in the lungs. Gingerol also works to relieve asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing related to bronchoconstriction.
Ginger Supports Brain Health
Several studies have revealed ginger to be a leading therapeutic food to combat the effects of Alzheimer's disease. One 2011 study demonstrated the benefits of this powerful root by administering 400 to 800 milligrams of it to 60 middle-aged women over two months. The results showed accelerated cognitive performance and improved visual memory at the end of the treatment period. Ginger is therefore neuroprotective, making it a wonderful brain-boosting food to add to your diet.
Turmeric Reduces Breast Cancer Development
Curcumin, the bioactive plant compound found in turmeric, can reduce cancer cells in two ways: it can reduce the rate of cancer cell growth and it helps traditional chemotherapy treatments work better. While the exact process by which curcumin affects cancer cells and gene expression has yet to be fully understood, these results still provide a promising avenue in chemopreventive interventions.
Turmeric Benefits Female Reproductive Health
Recent research published in the journal Nutrients, suggests that curcumin helps with ovarian function and reduces local inflammation in the reproductive organs. Lab studies also confirm that curcumin can reduce endometriosis symptoms by reducing inflammation and relieving associated pain with this condition.
Turmeric Effectively Supports Skin Health
More and more research indicates that curcumin, a major ingredient of turmeric root, can potentially be used to improve skin health and dermatological conditions. According to a recent systematic review, the topical and ingested applications of either turmeric or curcumin had beneficial effects on several skin conditions. Some of these conditions included acne, hair loss, itchy and scaly skin, sun damage and radiation burns.
Best Recipes Using Turmeric & Ginger
Are you looking for a few delicious and healthy ways to incorporate turmeric and ginger in your diet? Have a look at these recipes for some inspiration. From a classic curry, to a spiced cake to golden milk - enjoying the health benefits of these two powerhouse foods has never been easier.
Anti-Inflammatory Fruit Smoothie
This anti-inflammatory smoothie is packed with ingredients that will help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. The bromelain in pineapple and papain in papaya are natural enzymes that help break down inflammatory compounds. Enjoy this sweet and creamy drink for breakfast or a snack, and get the synergistic benefits of turmeric, ginger, pineapple, and papaya.
- 1 cup of diced fresh papaya
- 1 cup of diced fresh pineapple
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 cup of coconut milk
In a blender, combine all the ingredients together until blended and smooth.
Serve in a glass or mug and enjoy.
Golden milk is an age-old remedy that combines the benefits of turmeric and ginger for a powerful wellness tonic. This delicious drink is not only incredibly easy to make but also has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Here's how to make your own golden milk:
- 1 cup of almond or coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
- A pinch of black pepper (optional)
- Sweetener of your choice (such as honey or maple syrup, optional)
1. Heat the almond or coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add in the turmeric, ginger and black pepper and whisk until everything is combined.
3. Simmer for about 5 minutes before straining into a mug or cup of your choice.
4. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup if desired and enjoy.
Natural Cough Syrup with Fresh Ginger and Manuka Honey
This natural cough syrup is the perfect way to support your immune system during cooler months. It can be used as a preventative elixir throughout winter or used acutely every hour or so upon the first onset of cold symptoms. It's made with freshly grated ginger, Manuka honey and lemon juice for a delicious and soothing drink that helps soothe your throat.
- 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 cup of Manuka honey
- Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
- 1 cup of hot water
- In a small saucepan, combine water, ginger, and lemon juice over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer (not boiling).
- Reduce heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes to let all the flavours infuse and concentrate into a syrup.
- After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool slightly before adding in the Manuka honey. Stir until fully combined.
- Pour syrup into a clean jar or bottle and seal with a lid. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Sweet Turmeric & Ginger Cake
This sweet turmeric and ginger cake will quickly become your favourite treat. It has a slightly spicy flavour, thanks to the combination of turmeric and ginger, with a hint of sweetness from the sugar. It's an easy and delicious treat that everyone will love.
- 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- ¾ cup of softened butter
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and lightly flour two 20cm round cake pans.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, ginger and salt and set aside.
- In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition until incorporated.
- Beat in yogurt or sour cream until just blended and stir in the vanilla.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients in three parts alternating with the wet ingredients in two parts, beating until combined after each addition. Don't over mix.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.
- Allow to cool before removing from pans to cool completely on wire rack before frosting if desired.