Is Turmeric Good For You? Science Says It Can Improve Your Memory, So Eat Up

When you’re rummaging through your kitchen cabinets to add a little something extra to a dish you’re whipping up for dinner, what do you see? If it’s not a goldmine of good-for-you, holistic herbs, either use your imagination or update your spice rack. Cooking with spices like Himalayan pink salt, ground cinnamon, and ginger don’t just enhance a meal’s flavor; they contain a slew of health benefits, from detoxification elements to anti-inflammatory properties and more. If you think outside the cabinets, though, you may be missing some key ingredients. For instance, turmeric is good for you, too, and makes a greater impression on your body than the orangey imprint it’ll leave on your fingers.

I’m not one for bluffing though, so I’ll admit, I just recently hopped on the turmeric bandwagon myself. The Indian spice has been, for lack of a better — or more appropriate — term, a hot commodity over the past year or so, with influencers adding a dash to morning lattes and dousing their veggies in the stuff. As a sucker for a good social media phenomenon, I bought a container to sample for myself.

If you’ve never given the powder a taste, I have to admit, turmeric is potent, with an almost curried taste. If you’re someone who isn’t particularly adventurous with your palate, I suggest starting with a small sprinkle over something like eggs, and gradually incorporating the spice into more recipes as you go. It’s an acquired taste, but its benefits are definitely something worth getting used to.

New research found that curcumin, the main compound in turmeric root that makes the spice so colorful, can improve your memory.

Whole Foods Magazine reports a recent study led by researchers at UCLA discovered that regular consumption of curcumin not only combats memory loss and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but can also improve your memory overall. The compound is most commonly found in turmeric, but can also be taken as a supplement.

Researchers examined 40 participants between the ages of 50 and 90 years old, half of whom were instructed to take a curcumin supplement twice a day over an 18-month period. According to Forbes, participants were distributed surveys that measured mood and depression levels and tested their memory and cognition every six months, while brain scans were also used to track potential signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The results found that those who took curcumin supplements had a 28 percent increase in memory function, and were less anxious and depressed overall.

Turmeric and curcumin aren't one and the same, but together they offer so many health benefits that are simply too good to pass up.

I was personally really confused by what curcumin actually was when I first heard the term, so if you’re equally as lost, allow me to explain. Curcumin and turmeric are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually aren’t the same thing. Turmeric is a spice, while curcumin is a chemical compound that is found in turmeric. In other words, curcumin can be taken separately from turmeric in supplement form, but turmeric doesn’t exist without curcumin. It’s kind of like how every thumb is a finger, but not every finger is a thumb. Get it?

I don't know about you, but I think we’re told to take enough supplements as it is. If you’d rather pop another pill before breakfast, be my guest, but I would definitely suggest taking the more enjoyable route by adding turmeric to your meals for added flavor, and the bonus of sneaky health benefits.

For example, in addition to improving memory, turmeric yields a decent amount of medicinal properties. According to Healthline, curcumin is also a strong antioxidant and contains anti-inflammatory properties. It also has been noted to potentially prevent heart disease by strengthening blood vessel lining. Scrambled eggs with a side of heart health? Yes, please!

Plus, once you get used to the taste, turmeric is a really delicious spice, and it can be incorporated into a lot of different foods.

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If there’s anything I’ve picked up from following a bunch of health and wellness gurus on Instagram, it’s that these people will literally throw anything into their morning beverage of choice. Personally, I really enjoy sipping on something warm first thing in the a.m., and if you’re anything like me, a turmeric latte with breakfast might be a wonderful combination. And, speaking of breakfast, turmeric-poached eggs is a thing, so if your go-to is eggs, give this recipe a try for a vivaciously picturesque first meal of the day.

The first time I taste-tested turmeric was when I added a dash over a veggie medley I was roasting. I’ll admit, the first time around, I definitely misjudged the fact that a little bit goes a long way in terms of taste, so it was overwhelming. Once I nailed down the right measurements, though, I really enjoyed the flavor and started sprinkling a bit over baked fries, rice, and even used it in soups.

Turmeric may not seem versatile at first taste, but I promise you, the more you play around with the spice, the more you'll grow to appreciate the flavor and figure out where it works best. Plus, there's no easier way to sneak in a ton of health benefits than through the foods you eat, so do yourself a favor: buy a container and sprinkle that sh*t on everything.