Turmeric has many purported health benefits.

Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is a flowering plant in the ginger family with yellowish-orange rhizomes instead of brown ones. Turmeric is used frequently in Indian cooking to flavor and color meals either grated, sliced, peeled, or dried and processed into a powder.

What's turmeric?

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says turmeric supplementation's benefits on specific medical issues "remain uncertain," although it has positive characteristics.

What is turmeric good for?

Turmeric, like other colored plant-based foods, is rich in phytonutrients (strong antioxidants) that protect cells from free radicals like sunshine and air pollution.Lisa Young, PhD, author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim," and adjunct nutrition professor at New York University, says turmeric may help digestion, cognitive function, and skin.

Curcumin, turmeric's primary ingredient, can "decrease and relieve some symptoms of mild arthritis, such as joint pain and joint inflammation," says clinical nutritionist and JSHealth founder Jessica Sepel, BHlth. Young says turmeric "reduces bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol," which may benefit heart health.

Curcumin in turmeric may also combat cancer, although study is ongoing. "Some studies suggest that curcumin may have anticancer properties by inhibiting cancer cell growth and preventing tumor blood vessel formation," says Jen Messer, a nutrition expert and registered dietitian.

Many of turmeric's benefits are still being explored, and it has certain unwanted effects. “While turmeric is safe to consume, too much can cause diarrhea, nausea and headache,” says Young. The anticoagulant qualities of turmeric may inhibit blood clotting, "which can be beneficial for some but dangerous to others

Is it OK to take turmeric daily?

Though Millstine acknowledges that "turmeric is generally safe," there are additional adverse effects to consider. "The biggest risk I face with turmeric in my practice is drug interactions," she says. She adds some plant varieties might induce heartburn.

Despite no standard daily turmeric dose, "The World Health Organization has determined an acceptable daily intake of turmeric powder as 1.4 milligrams per pound of body weight when turmeric powder is used as a spice in cooking

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