May. 29. 2013
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

Turmeric is one of my absolute favorite spices I use in cooking because of it’s amazing health benefits and flavor. Who cares if you stain your clothing, hands, countertops, new kitchen linens (bummer), while using turmeric in the kitchen, it’s all in the good notion and name of health and vitality, right? Right! In the previous two posts (Turmeric Milk and Curry Cashew Cauliflower Soup), turmeric was one of the star ingredients so let’s explore this gem of a spice!

The queen spice, turmeric

Oh gorgeous yellow-burnt orange colored delicate powder, how do I love thee? I love thee a lot. Turmeric is in my top 5 spices that I can’t live without. The health benefits are so powerful yet so often over looked and under used in the Western culture it amazes me. To no fault of our culture, turmeric simply isn’t predominant in our region or cuisine. Your views and opinions may quickly turn in favor of using this yellow spice more often than not after today (at least I hope so, *fingers crossed*). Throughout history turmeric has been used anywhere from a healing remedy for a variety of ailments to a textile dye! The flavor profile of turmeric is earthy, warm, slightly peppery, and sometimes a bit bitter. It has also been called “Indian saffron” due to it’s deep yellow-golden color as you can see from the pictures above, which is similar to saffron (a rich deep red color). Did you also know the rich golden yellow color of turmeric is also responsible and often used in standard mustards to “color” the mustard yellow? Natural food dyes=awesome.

How to use TURMERIC |

  • Curries
  • Season meat/poultry/fish/beans/tofu/tempeh, etc.
  • Season roasted vegetables
  • Season rice, quinoa, other grains/legumes
  • Use a dash in hummus
  • Use in broth like soups/stews
  • Sneak it into your smoothies (why not?)
  • Turmeric Milk
  • Curry Cashew Cauliflower Soup
  • Natural food coloring

Why turmeric rocks?  Turmeric has powerful medicinal properties due to it’s high amounts of nutrients, antioxidants, anti inflammatory compounds, and phytonutrients that have been studied in depth especially for cancer prevention. The attention should be on curcumin. Curcumin in the main component found in turmeric that responsible for the medicinal benefits//properties. Turmeric and curcumin have been used in studies: improving IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), Crohn’s disease, immune health, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, cancer prevention // inhibits cancer cell growth (and here and here), prevention of colon cancer , pancreatic cancer/tumor growth, prevention of prostate cancer (when teamed up with our friend the cauliflower), reduce risk of childhood leukemia (and here), improve liver function, diabetes, cardiovascular benefits//protection, cholesterol (and here), wound healing, and Alzhiemer’s (and here and here). Wow, now you can see (and read the studies) carried out regarding the powerful benefits of turmeric//curcumin.

As with most studies, active compounds and components of food are studied in large doses, so how do we make this applicable to daily life? Most of the research studies use anywhere from 2-7g of curcumin to test, this would be a lot of turmeric to eat (especially when pure turmeric is comprised of about 3.14% by weight of curcumin). I recommend using it daily if you like (and checking with your trusty physician in case you’re on certain medications), but again, I understand this is may be a new spice to use in your cooking so use as you see fit.

Nutrition Stripped breakdown of TURMERIC | 

*based on 100g (which is quite difficult to consume at once, but this is for the sake of nutrient composition)

  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B| B6 (pyridoxine), B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate )
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients

Side note* Turmeric may have an interaction with anticogulant/antiplatlet drugs (i.e. Plavix, Coumadin, etc.) which may increase the risk of bleeding in some people; turmeric is in the group of herbs that may interact with these types of medications: garlic, ginseng, ginger, willow, red clover, clove, and others. Just a heads up, speak with you physician if you think this may impact your lifestyle (or if you plan to eat loads of turmeric!).


Have you ever tried turmeric in your cooking? I challenge you to incorporate turmeric in your cooking/meals at least 2 times this week! Are you up for the challenge? Post below how you used turmeric.

Happy day friends,

xo McKel