What Makes Mustard Yellow?

Have you ever wondered what gives mustard or curry its rich yellow color? The answer is quite simple. One ingredient in particular has the power to add both a pop of color and a nutritional punch to various foods and dishes.

Turmeric originated in Asia and is a spice closely related to ginger; it can be purchased either fresh or dried and ground (Weil, 2016). Turmeric can also be found as a herbal or medicinal supplement in capsule and tablet form (Weil, 2016). It’s most commonly known for its pungent yellow color but most importantly, it does wonders for our bodies. Thanks to its naturally occurring chemical known as curcumin, turmeric has many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (Weil, 2016).

Constant inflammation causes your immune system to be continuously switched "on"; this is very unhealthy for your body and can eventually sicken your body’s cells (Petrucci, 2016). As an anti-inflammatory agent, turmeric is beneficial for those suffering from arthritis, heartburn, joint and stomach pain, Crohn’s disease, bloating, headaches, colds, bronchitis and many other undesirable health conditions (WebMD).

As an antioxidant, turmeric helps prevent the oxidation of free radicals (Weil, 2016). Free radicals are uncharged particles that can be harmful to our bodies by potentially causing DNA mutations -if activated (Weil, 2016). Interestingly so, Indian populations who consume greater amounts of turmeric than North Americans have a much lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (Weil, 2016). In fact, in a study of mice who consumed constant doses of turmeric, it was found that Alzheimer’s progression was blocked (Weil, 2016).

Turmeric can be absorbed topically or orally. For general health purposes, as an anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant, turmeric can be consumed fresh or as a ground spice in various foods and recipes (see recipe below for turmeric tea). For medicinal use treating specific health conditions, tablet or capsule forms of turmeric are preferred (Weil, 2016). Turmeric can also be used topically in a face mask or as part of a cream to treat conditions like acne inflammation, skin soars and wounds (WebMD).

Please note: it has been found that those with liver disease as well as pregnant women should avoid turmeric consumption (Weil, 2016).

Fun Fact: Turmeric is used for its essential oil and coloring in both perfumes and cosmetics!

Did you know turmeric tea is most popular in Okinawa (Japan), one of the world’s Blue Zones (where lifespans are the greatest)!

Turmeric Tea Recipe (Dr. Weil’s)

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil

2. Add 1 tsp of ground turmeric to the boiling water and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes

3. Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a mug and add raw honey or liquid stevia to taste (be warned that turmeric in excess can be quite bitter)

4. Add a pinch of black pepper to increase absorption into the body