Polyphenols are micronutrients with substantial health benefits and used in many herbal products. Turmeric, also known as curcuma longa contains the most extensively studied polyphenol named curcumin. Many turmeric supplements and powder are made from the root extracts of turmeric plant and curcumin.
Difference between turmeric and curcumin
Turmeric is a well-known cooking ingredient in South-East Asia. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. It constitutes merely 6% of the spice. It is rich in antioxidant properties and gives the bright yellow color to the spice. The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of curcumin safeguards turmeric plant’s root from getting damaged. It also helps to differentiate acidic food and alkaline food based on the yellow and red color indication in food. Organic methods for turmeric processing helps retain antioxidant levels and safeguards the spice from bugs and additives.
Importance of curcumin in turmeric supplements
Turmeric contains many ingredients with medicinal benefits, out of which curcumin is the most important. Health supplements containing isolated curcumin and turmeric as a whole, are enriched with high antioxidant levels. Though there are several ways to extract curcumin from turmeric, extraction methods using CO2 in highly liquid pressurized form is safer and helps retain maximum health benefits of curcumin. Besides curcumin, other ingredients of turmeric such as gingerol and oleoresin offers health benefits too. The presence of gingerol in turmeric helps to ease digestion and cure nausea. Essential oils are found in turmeric herb as a whole but absent in isolated curcumin. Tasting and smelling oleoresin and other therapeutic parts of the turmeric can heal depression.
Use of piperine in turmeric supplements
Many turmeric supplements contain piperine because it helps the body to absorb turmeric and its medicinal effects faster into the body. Using black pepper along with turmeric helps easier and faster absorption of turmeric into the body.
Turmeric in cooking vs supplements
Most Indian dishes use turmeric. It tastes great when used in scrambled eggs. The spicy flavor of turmeric goes well with potatoes and cauliflower. Half a teaspoon of turmeric is sufficient to bring a rich yellow color to a pot of plain white rice. It also makes a bowl of soup taste warm and peppery. However, the quantity of turmeric used in cooking is not sufficient to treat medical conditions. It is more effective when taken as health supplement because they are formulated in such a way to be adequate in composition and potential that is required to treat various medical conditions. Turmeric and curcumin is used to treat many diseases such as alzheimer’s, arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes etc.
Curcumin, in particular reduces the risk of heart attack in bypass patients. Supplements are usually nontoxic and does not cause any adverse effects when consumed in appropriate quantity. However those who are pregnant, anemic and taking medications for known medical conditions should consult a healthcare specialist before using turmeric supplements because turmeric can increase stomach acid production and also interfere with actions of certain medications.