Why Is Everyone Suddenly Obsessed With Turmeric?
You’re probably familiar with turmeric from the time you tried making curry at home and ended up with yellow stains all over your kitchen and a soupy mess that wasn’t close to the real thing. It’s traditionally—and by “traditionally” we mean, like, for more than 4,500 years—been used as a spice in Asian, Indian, and African dishes. But lately it’s migrated from curries and stews to yuppie snacks like grain bowls and cold-pressed juices. Yes, like bone broth and ancient grains before it, turmeric has graduated from Stone Age staple to superfood du jour for people who can afford an Equinox membership.
“Turmeric has an extensive list of health benefits, and as most ‘superfoods’ have their moment in the sunshine, turmeric may be exploding in popularity now simply due to its anti-inflammatory properties,” says New York registered dietitian Tanya Freirich. “Also, to our generation of very social-media-savvy participants, it's got that amazing, vibrant yellow hue that lends itself very well to Instagram shots.”
About those anti-inflammatory properties: Freirich says turmeric can help with everything from joint pain to osteoarthritis and Crohn’s Disease. It also helps reduce cancer risk (seriously, though: What nutritional fad doesn’t reduce cancer risk?). It contains small amounts of iron, protein, and fiber. But most importantly, it’s going to help you with digestion. Whether it’s in a tea or a juice, turmeric—especially if you add a little ginger—is like an oil change for your stomach.
You can get turmeric as a packaged ground spice or buy the fresh root. The nutritional differences are negligible. The powdered variety, which is an excellent pantry staple, is going to lose its flavor over time (be sure to keep it out of the sunlight to preserve the spice as long as possible). But the potent root, which you can peel and grate like ginger, packs more flavor—and, okay, looks better in your overhead food shots.