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Turmeric: More than Just a Spice

Some supplements have been around since ancient times and have continued to be a popular way to assist our bodies in overcoming ailments. One of these you may have heard of lately is turmeric. This bright orange rhizome is part of the ginger family and native to India. The standout color is recognizable in naturally dyed items as well as curry dishes. But did you know that besides being beautiful and tasting delicious, turmeric has numerous health benefits? Two of the most prominent are its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant support.

Turmeric has been touted as an anti-inflammatory all-star recently and with good reason. Inflammation in the body comes in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is necessary for healing wounds and injuries. Chronic inflammation shows up in many different ways and can be caused by environmental factors such as smoking, stress, excess weight, poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, pollution and poor oral health.

Low-level chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the majority of chronic Western diseases, including heart disease, cancer, various degenerative diseases, Alzheimer's and more. Adding turmeric to your routine can help fight chronic inflammation every day. Turmeric contains curcumin which is able to block NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and can turn on the genes connected with inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases. Studies show curcumin has an effectiveness similar to that of prescription anti-inflammatory drugs—without the side effects. Many choose turmeric capsules as a supplement as opposed to just eating turmeric as a spice because the supplements often contain black pepper which has been shown to increase the bioavailability of the curcumin found in turmeric.

Antioxidants are also a hot topic for those looking to improve their health naturally. Oxidative damage is one of the leading causes of aging and is also a contributing factor to chronic disease. Free radicals entering the body through the air we breathe being polluted from living in cities, the food we eat containing artificial dyes and flavorings, and our skin being exposed to toxins, react with fatty acids, DNA and proteins in our bodies. Antioxidants are extremely beneficial in our modern world because they protect us from free radicals. Even living a healthy lifestyle, some free radical exposure is inescapable. Curcumin, along with being anti-inflammatory, is also a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals and boost our body’s antioxidant enzymes. Curcumin is a great all-natural way to fight free radicals on two fronts: by blocking them directly as well as stimulating the body’s own mechanisms.

Inflammation and free radicals aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but by adding turmeric to your supplement library, you are well on your way to living a healthy lifestyle just like the traditional holistic practitioners have for thousands of years.

Drop by and join Mastel’s Health Foods in celebrating their 50th Anniversary and check out the turmeric and curcumin they carry in many different forms. Their staff is experienced, very knowledgeable and available to help you find which type best suits your needs. Mastel’s is located at 1526 St. Clair Ave., St Paul. For more information, call 651-690-1692 or visit See ad page 15.

Alina Hornfeldt is the marketing manager at Mastel’s Health Foods. Find her work at

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