SAN ANTONIO — Some are calling it the new superfood. Turmeric is gaining worldwide popularity because of the many health benefits its users say have made their body better.
But those who take it say this spice have said it helped them battle a variety of problems including inflammation from arthritis, memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer's, the flu, depression, cancer, menstrual cramps, heart disease, stomach pain, Chron's disease, diarrhea, intestinal gas, jaundice, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, skin conditions, damage from radiation treatment, fatigue, and even cat cancer.
"Turmeric is a spice that's been around for thousands of years, used in a variety of different cultures, used medicinally, culinary, and even in religious ceremonies," said registered dietician Laura Lomax. She said it could be due to its anti-oxidant bio-active substance called curcumin. "Curcumin is the main bioactive substance that is in turmeric that helps to give it that bright vibrant color, as well as its anti-inflammatory anti-oxidant capabilities," Lomax said.
We spoke with two turmeric users to find out why they use it. The first was Stephanie Leonard, who is epileptic. "I was diagnosed when I was only a year old," she said. Along with her other medication, she thought she would do what she could on her end, and so far has had positive results. "I haven't had a seizure yet, so that's pretty good. I believe that turmeric as well as other methods I'm using with other oils and stress has something to do with it."
"I've had a relatively high A1C number for many years. It's never quite gone over the tipping point to be deemed diabetic but it's been close," said Eric Whittington, who was borderline pre-diabetic. He said after nine months of taking turmeric twice a day, and no other major diet or exercise changes, his A1C dropped. "My number went down from about a 5.8 or 5.9 to about 5.5 or 5.6," Whittington said.
So we've talked about the health benefits, but you're eating it, and drinking it, so it has to taste decent. We decided to head into the kitchen.
Our chef for the experiment is Marco Zambrano. He has used turmeric before and told us, "There are several different ways you can use it. You can use it in your rice you can use it in your tea."
We decided to make three items using the turmeric. The first was rice, topped with the spice. The second, spice mixed into vegetable soup. The third is a drink containing milk, honey, and turmeric, that is called a "Golden latte."
Our taste tester was 10-year-old Angelina. First, we had her test out the rice and soup without the turmeric. She gave both dishes thumbs up. But, when she tried the rice and soup with the spice, it was thumbs down on both.
For the "Golden latte" we brought in the more mature pallette of Zambrano, who told us the drink didn't taste so bad, and would continue to drink it as long as it benefits his health.
So regardless of whether you think it could seriously battle diabetes, take on epilepsy, or make that body bigger and better, our dietitian said give it a try. "It is very safe. It is a great alternative to adding sodium," Lomax said.