Saturday, February 18, 2012

Curcuma - Powerful anti-cancer ally?

One of the key goals to eat better is not only to promote weight loss and overall better health but also to help reduce risk of major health problems such as cancer. This is why I will also research on this subject and create a "cancer fighting foods" section from this Blog.

This article will share with you what I learned with regarding curcuma, especially turmeric (Curcuma longa), a spice with promising cancer fighting properties.

Curcuma - what is it?

Curcuma is basically a genus of many species in the plant family Zingiberaceae. It is actually from the same plant family of ginger (another healthy spice).

The turmeric plant appears to be one of the curcuma species that has been more studied recently for its anti-cancer capabilities. It is mainly used as a spice in curry (to give curry a spicy taste and yellow-orange color) and consumed in Asian countries such as India.

Health benefits

Turmeric has been used and harvested as far as 5,000 years ago in countries like India, China as a spice but also as an overall digestive tonic. Turmeric is believed to have anti-inflammatory (reducing inflammation in your body should always be a goal) and antioxidant (very important to protect your body and cells against free radicals, which can damage your cells and lead to cancer) effects.

Curcumin is believed to be the primary agent responsible for turmeric's yellow-orange color and its health benefits:

  •           Early research suggest turmeric can keep several kinds of cancers from growing or spreading
  •           Strong antioxidant effect that can reduce risk of cancer but also protect the brain, liver (detoxification effect), and other key organs from damage by toxic substances such as drugs, radiation, excessive alcohol, heavy metals etc.
  •           Anti-inflammatory effect (useful to treat or prevent diseases such as arthritis, IBS etc.)
  •           Can help your digestive system due to its strong by reducing inflammation (has been shown to help reduce and health stomach ulcers)
  •           Can help protect your cardiovascular system by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol which can lead to blood vessel damage. Turmeric can also help reduce your "bad" cholesterol level
  •           Some research also suggest turmeric may help protect against Alzheimer's (neurodegenerative) disease. Alzheimer rate is very low for example in countries such as India.

As you can see, the list of curcuma health benefits is very impressive, especially regarding cancer prevention and its overall healing & anti-inflammation effects.

How to use

I'm planning to purchase curcuma very soon and share my experience. For now, find below information and ideas I found regarding how to select and consume curcuma (turmeric powder).

  •           If possible, use organically grown turmeric (reduced risk that the herb has been irradiated)
  •           Pure turmeric powder is recommended vs. curry powder (pure turmeric powder has the highest concentration of curcumin)
  •           Turmeric powder is typically used in Indian foods. You can add it to your rice, soup etc. for an increased taste and color
  •           Another interesting idea is to add turmeric powder to any healthy (homemade if possible) vegetable dip (this is very likely how I will first try turmeric)

Please share your experience of curcuma, the effect on your body and recipes.


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