Turmeric is a popular yellow spice originating from southern Asia. It’s an essential ingredient in many Indian dishes. It’s also consumed for its health benefits. Supplements of turmeric, or curcumin — its main active ingredient — are becoming increasingly common.
However, some people are concerned about the possible side effects of high-dose turmeric and curcumin supplements. This review looks into the evidence.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric, also known by the scientific name Curcuma longa, is an ancient Indian spice, medicinal herb and food dye in the ginger family. Its root stalks, called rhizomes, are bright yellow or orange. They’re usually dried and ground into powder, and are rich in curcuminoids, plant compounds that are responsible for turmeric’s characteristic color.
Turmeric is an essential ingredient in Indian curries, with its taste described as bitter and peppery. Nearly all of the world’s turmeric is grown and consumed in India. It mainly consists of carbs, mostly starch and fiber. However, like all spices, turmeric contains numerous plant compounds and nutrients.
The main active compounds in turmeric are the curcuminoids. They are responsible for turmeric’s orange-yellow color and most of its health benefits. The most widely studied curcuminoid is curcumin, which may constitute around 3% of turmeric.
Additionally, commercial turmeric or curcumin powders usually contain additives. These include silicon dioxide, an anti-caking agent that prevents clumping. Some cheap turmeric powders may also contain illegal additives that are not listed on the labels. Turmeric adulteration is discussed in more detail in the next pages.
Turmeric is a popular, yellow-orange spice. It is also used as a food dye and dietary supplement. The compound curcumin is thought to be responsible for most of its health benefits.