Turmeric is having a well-deserved moment. Our recipes featuring turmeric are amongst our most popular, our turmeric instas cause hysterics, and, of course, we add it to much of what we eat and drink. But what exactly is turmeric? What are its health benefits? Where does it come from? What does it taste like? How should we eat it? We’re here to give you the low-down on all things turmeric.

What Exactly is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a culinary spice and a member of the ginger family. The part of the turmeric plant we eat is the rhizome — an underground stem which looks just like a root. This rhizome can be used fresh or dried and ground into a powder. It’s well known for its strong mustard-yellow color, which means it’s also a great dye.

Where Does Turmeric Come From?

Turmeric grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia. It’s most suited to a warm, wet climate.

What Does Turmeric Taste Like?

Turmeric is a classic curry spice: you’ll find it in almost all curry powders. It has a slightly bitter, aromatic, peppery flavor. Typically, it’s used in savory dishes alongside a range of other spices.

What are Turmeric’s Health Benefits?

Turmeric has a multitude of health benefits. It can help treat illnesses ranging from depression to eyesight to IBS.

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Since it works as successfully as anti-inflammatory drugs, it’s used to treat heart disease, arthritis, and metabolic syndrome. It also reduces the buildup of Amyloid plaques, which are a key cause of Alzheimer’s.

If you suffer from digestive problems, like IBS, bloating, or stomach pain, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties may soothe them.

Turmeric is filled with antioxidants, and it helps your body produce more of them! This antioxidant-overload can repair and prevent heart and eye problems, help beat depression, and strengthen your immune system.

Suffering from a cold or flu? Turn to turmeric for its antibacterial properties. Follow the Ayurvedic practice of eating Golden Honey: a mixture of turmeric, honey, and black pepper. Have it on its own or—our favorite—in hot water.

How to Use Turmeric

You can cook with the fresh rhizome and the dried powder. To ensure you get the maximum health benefits, use it in conjunction with freshly ground black pepper. The piperine in pepper increases our ability to absorb curcumin (the most active constituent of turmeric), so we receive all of turmeric’s goodness!

When using the powder, add it as you would other spices. Give it time to warm up, so the bitter flavor softens. Try it in curries, soups, stews, rice, and even a morning smoothie!

If you have fresh turmeric, treat it like you would fresh ginger. Peel it and either chop or finely grate it. You can then add it to whatever you’re cooking, or place it in hot water with ginger, lemon, and black pepper for a detoxifying tea.

Get well and stay well by incorporating this spice into your life. An apple a day is so 20th century; just one cup of turmeric tea a day can make all the difference!