With so many dietary trends and information to consider, beginning your own journey of discovery can be easier than you think. Turmeric is being hailed as the new ‘wonder’ spice, but it’s been hiding in plain sight on most British spice racks for years, and is a well-known ingredient used in Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medical systems. But it’s not only turmeric that’s been getting more press lately, the humble black peppercorn and cinnamon (also Ayurvedic staples) are also part of a new wave of interest in the healing properties of spices.
Turmeric is a staple in many Indian cuisines. It has been attributed to less incidents of chronic illness and Alzheimer’s Disease in India. Owing its curative properties to the active ingredient curcumin, turmeric helps prevent oxidation and the resulting chronic, lowgrade inflammation that contributes to many modern diseases and conditions.
Black pepper can help prevent Alzheimer’s, depression, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, cancer, obesity and respiratory issues. The active chemical in black pepper is called piperine and it’s used to increase bioavailability of other vitamins/compounds, aid digestion, manage stress, and increase basal metabolic rates to help people lose weight.
Cinnamon is made from the bark of the cinnamomum genus of trees and it’s believed that the compound cinnamaldehyde is responsible for cinnamon’s anti-flammatory properties, reducing the risk of heart disease, preventing type 2 diabetes and lowering blood sugar levels.
Incorporating these healing spices into your diet, rather than popping a pill, is better because they often appear in recipes that naturally aid the absorption of the active chemicals. Bioavailability is the term used to describe the amount of the vitamin, mineral or nutrient capable of being absorbed by your body; vitamins and minerals often interact in complex, unpredictable ways.
Fat-soluble vitamins, such as A and D, are better absorbed with a meal containing some fat, but if the meal also contains lots of fibre, that will block the absorption potential of some minerals. Turmeric is partially fat-soluble and partially water-soluble, so is best eaten with some fat and in a sauce (like an Indian curry) and if eaten alongside black pepper your body can absorb even more of the active chemical.
Here are a few recipes that CSSC staff enjoy, which will help you incorporate these powerful spices into your daily eating plan. Check out the Golden Turmeric Latte, Breakfast Smoothie and Cauliflower, Chick Pea & Coconut Curry recipes.