Turmeric, a spice belonging to the ginger family, is native to Southeast Asia. It has numerous medicinal and culinary uses and is extensively used in India as an antiseptic for cuts and burns. Turmeric contains both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which makes it ideal to treat arthritis, inflammatory conditions and even cancer.
In some studies, turmeric has shown to help inhibit the growth of cancer cells.1 The antioxidants in turmeric protect the brain, kidneys, and liver from damage by alcohol, drugs, radiation, heavy metals or chemicals. Turmeric is used as a food ingredient as well as a supplement.
Here, we look at whether cooking with turmeric is better or consuming it as a supplement is more beneficial.
Cooking With Turmeric
In the US, turmeric is generally found in a dry powdered form, although some stores also sell the fresh root. While the powder is bright yellow in color, the root or rhizome resembles ginger with an orange tint.
Cooking with fresh or dried turmeric unleashes its distinct flavor and add a dash of bright yellow color to your dish. Turmeric has a slightly bitter flavor and is generally combined with black pepper to enhance the body’s absorption of its medicinal properties.2
It is a common ingredient in curry powder, which is a blend of various Indian spices and is used in a variety of dishes including curries, eggs, and rice. Turmeric is the main ingredient of the popular health drink called “golden milk” and can also be added to soups and stews. According to ayurveda, turmeric increases your ojas (vital energy) and is known to improve digestion.
Using Turmeric Supplements
Consuming turmeric in a supplement form increases the intake of curcumin. Experts recommend consuming up to 3 grams of dried powder or whole root to achieve the daily intake. But, owing to its mild bitter taste, this quantity may seem unpalatable to most people. Moreover, the fat-soluble active components of turmeric and its essential oils must get past the blood-brain barrier to provide neurological support and support for other targeted areas.
But, when cooked, these essential oils are not preserved as cooking just releases their flavor and aroma. Often, these essential oils are not available since most uncooked preparations don’t support absorption of the fat-soluble components, diminishing the potency of dried turmeric. But, turmeric extract in a supplement form provides a concentrated and powerful serving designed specifically for targeted support. Turmeric extract combined with black pepper enables it to pass through the intestinal lining and reaches specific areas much faster.
When turmeric is used in cooking and consumed as a food, your body must perform the extraction process, which requires more effort to receive the vital constituents present in turmeric. Whereas, a turmeric extract supplement provides its benefits faster and is absorbed by the body more easily.
Difference Between Cooking Turmeric Vs. Supplements
One advantage of using turmeric in cooking, as opposed to a supplement, is that you tend to consume it with fats or oils present in your food. This enhances the absorption of curcuminoids in the turmeric, as they have a tendency to attach to fats (lipophilic).
Most clinical studies use turmeric extract and not turmeric powder. Only around 3 percent of the weight of turmeric powder is curcumin and curcuminoid compounds, which offer turmeric’s medicinal benefits. But in turmeric extracts, the concentration of curcumin and curcuminoid compounds is often as high as 95 percent.
A capsule containing half a gram of turmeric extract provides 400 mg of curcuminoids, while the same amount of turmeric powder may offer just about 15 mg. So, turmeric extract is more concentrated and contains a lot more curcumin.
|↑1||Ravindran, Jayaraj, Sahdeo Prasad, and Bharat B. Aggarwal. “Curcumin and cancer cells: how many ways can curry kill tumor cells selectively?.” The AAPS journal 11, no. 3 (2009): 495-510.|
|↑2||Shoba, Guido, David Joy, Thangam Joseph, M. Majeed, R_ Rajendran, and P. S. S. R. Srinivas. “Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers.” Planta medica 64, no. 04 (1998): 353-356.|