Ingredients like turmeric are a staple in Southeast Asian households to be used for various purposes. For example, it is a huge part of beautifying rituals among Indians. Meanwhile, they also consider it an important spice in almost all their recipes. Not only this, but turmeric can also improve your overall health, supports health conditions, and may speed up wound healing. This is why turmeric is a major part of Ayurvedic medicine.
The popular ingredient, present in various Southeast Asian dishes, is now slowly gaining recognition for its many health benefits. These are particularly associated with its therapeutic properties, such as its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components.
Although turmeric is gaining popularity at a fast rate, it is still quite a misunderstood root spice. In fact, many people use the term ‘turmeric’ interchangeably with curcumin and curcuminoids.
However, the three terms are quite different in meaning and should certainly not be used interchangeably. You must learn the differences as they have implications in many areas, such as clinical dosing and nutritional supplements.
The main reason why the terms are used together or interchangeably is that curcumin comes from turmeric. It is a potent part of the spice contributing to the benefits.
For thousands of years, people have been using turmeric for its healing properties and beautifying benefits. As scientists and researchers began studying the benefits of turmeric and how it works, they ended up with the discovery of curcuminoids.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizome that is related to the ginger family. The boldly-flavored spice grows in Southeast Asian countries like India, where it is used for various purposes. Asian households use bright-yellow spice as an ingredient for curry, in medicines, and in DIY beauty products.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric also serve as a complementary therapy for conditions like joint pain, arthritis, and certain digestive issues. While you will often find it in the form of powder in a spice jar, turmeric has a similar appearance as ginger.
Studies regarding the golden rhizome root reveal that turmeric contains many different plant substances. These include curcuminoids and other carotenoids. While turmeric has many benefits on its own, it is most popular due to the benefits of curcuminoids.
Curcuminoids are plant compounds found in turmeric that provide therapeutic upon the consumption of turmeric. These include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxucurcumin. Curcumin happens to be the most beneficial of the three notable curcuminoids in turmeric. It is the key active ingredient that is most beneficial to human health. In fact, it is also responsible for giving the spice its yellowish-orange color.
Besides curcuminoids, other carotenoids present in turmeric are zeaxanthin and lutein. The two substances promote eye health. Turmeric also contains beta-carotene. The body automatically converts this compound into vitamin A, so you all reap the benefits of vitamin A as you consume turmeric.
According to research and studies, turmeric and curcumin are quite similar in terms of benefits.
Using turmeric or curcumin alone can effectively reduce your risk of heart disease. Research by the Nutrition Journal in 2017 suggests that the two can reduce levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
Moreover, the use of turmeric and curcumin may also help people suffering from obesity. This is especially beneficial for patients experiencing chronic inflammation. Use of these ingredients can help suppress inflammation, reducing symptoms of obesity. A study by Nutrition Research and Practice and another review by BioFactors revealed this amazing benefit of turmeric and curcumin alike.
However, there is more to the shared benefits of curcumin and turmeric. The two can also improve blood glucose level in diabetic patients. They will experience a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress by the use of turmeric or curcumin.
It is true that the primarily active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, offers a wide variety of health benefits. It delivers fantastic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that make turmeric very popular. While curcumin is responsible for the color and property of turmeric, it is not everything that turmeric has to offer.
In fact, turmeric is quite an effective ingredient even in the absence of curcumin. It contains other compounds that largely contribute to the advantages of using turmeric. According to one study, turmeric is much more effective than curcumin at inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells.
In fact, curcumin is only half as effective. In numbers, turmeric shows 66 percent inhibition while curcumin only shows 33 percent.
Some other studies reveal a similar trend regarding other tumor cells, suggesting that curcumin may not be the only potent compound in turmeric. However, human and animal trials are yet to take place to confirm these in vitro test findings.
A PLOS One research that was published in 2018 also shows that the antifungal benefits of turmeric compounds are still much effective separately.
According to research focused on studying the benefits of turmeric, curcumin is a curcuminoid and plant compound that delivers the most benefits. It also makes up around 2 to 8 percent of most turmeric’s makeup. Not to mention, the active compound curcumin also gives turmeric its bold and bright color.
Many studies of the past have revealed that curcumin is a much more effective anti-inflammatory treatment option than aspirin and ibuprofen. It may also help treat inflammatory conditions affecting the joints, like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Aging published a study in January 2017 revealing some heart health-related benefits of curcumin. It suggested that curcumin largely improves endothelial function, protecting the heart from health risks. Low endothelial function causes a risk of heart disease, so using curcumin can maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Curcumin may also prevent certain cancer types, such as gastric cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. However, there is not enough research to scientifically support this health benefit of curcumin. Another study on diabetic rats also showed curcumin to reduce blood sugar levels.
The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not at all the same. In fact, turmeric is a spice that contains many plant compounds, including curcuminoids. And curcumin happens to be the most active curcuminoid in turmeric.
Curcumin, which provides turmeric its distinctive yellow color, is the primary active ingredient in the spice. The majority of turmeric's potential health advantages can be attributed to curcumin.
Regrettably, turmeric and curcumin don't readily enter the human system, so eating curry with it only once a month is difficult to provide you with the required antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.