Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical Indian Subcontinent and needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and propagated from some of those rhizomes in the following season. Its roots as well as leaves have long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines for their demonstrated anti-inflammatory (painkiller), anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer properties. It is a natural food preservative.
Turmeric 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 height and features aromatic miniature plantain like leaves.
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 situation, 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.
Turmeric root features dark brown skin on the exterior and deep orange-yellow flesh internally. Its leaves as well as rhizome features unique flavor and fragrance. Taste is described as mild peppery to warm and bitter while its fragrance is sweet and pleasant, slightly reminiscent of a mix of orange-zest and ginger to which it is related. Once harvested, the root is boiled, dried, and ground to make its distinctive bright yellow spice powder.
Turmeric plants produce no seeds, and only reproduce via its spreading rhizomes.
Turmeric is one of the readily available, cheap herbs that contain notable phyto-nutrients profile. At 159277 µmol TE/100 g, its total-ORAC value or anti-oxidant strength is one of the highest among known herb and spice species.
100 g of turmeric provides : 53% of dietary fiber, (% of Recommended Daily Allowance, RDA per 100 g)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 root can provide enough nutrients to help you keep away from anemia, neuritis, memory disorders and offer protection against cancers, infectious diseases, high blood pressure and strokes.
The rhizome has been in use since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory (painkiller), carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties.
The herb contains 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; however, it 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 B6), choline, niacin, and riboflavin, etc. 100 g herb provides 1.80 mg or 138% of daily-recommended levels of pyridoxine. Pyridoxine is used in the treatment of homocystinuria, sideroblastic anemia and radiation sickness. Niacin helps prevent "pellagra" or dermatitis.
Fresh root contains very good levels of vitamin-C. 100 of root compose of 23.9 mg of this vitamin. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful natural anti-oxidant, which helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, and remove harmful free oxygen radicals.
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 cell (RBC's) productions.
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