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What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian and other Asian food. Turmeric is said to have been used for over 2000 years, to add flavour to foods, as a natural food colourant and also in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric also has also had non-food uses, for example in fabric dying. Turmeric has long been considered holy in ...Read more India, and is still used in Hindu religious ceremonies and weddings.

What’s beneficial about turmeric?

As well as its wonderful flavour and colour, turmeric has been widely studied for its potential health benefits. Research on curcumin, the main active constituent of turmeric, has shown anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, amongst others.

Why take a turmeric supplement?

Turmeric is readily available in its natural powder form for use in cooking, and is an excellent part of a healthy diet. A great excuse to eat more curry! But the main active part of turmeric – curcumin – is only found in small amounts in whole turmeric powder. For this reason, turmeric supplements are often made to be more concentrated in curcumin – some contain up to 95% or even 98% curcumin. This means that one turmeric/curcumin tablet or capsule can be equivalent to eating up to ten grams of turmeric powder in terms of its potential health benefits. 

How do I choose a good turmeric supplement?

Turmeric supplements are mainly found in the form of capsules or tablets. A good turmeric supplement will generally contain a high amount of curcumin, as we have seen. 

But another factor with turmeric supplements is that curcumin generally has a low ‘bioavailability’, meaning it’s poorly absorbed and doesn’t easily reach the body’s tissues. For this reason, some companies add specific ingredients to their turmeric supplements, or use different production methods to increase the absorption and bioavailability of the curcumin in the turmeric. For example, some good turmeric supplements contain an extract of black pepper, which is thought to increase the absorption of the curcumin.

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