As winter approaches and the temperature falls, we have come to expect the onset of the hectic holiday season. Traveling, gathering with friends and family, keeping up with work, school, and other commitments – it all adds up to stress! Perhaps this is part of the reason it is not uncommon to get sick at this time of year. Why not bring the craziness down a notch this year with a steaming mug of tea? Especially with a tea that has nutritional properties to help your body and eyes meet their many demands.
Tea is available in seemingly endless varieties. Each type of tea has unique nutritional properties. One type of tea that has found renewed interest contains Curcuma longa, a root also known as the rhizome turmeric, that belongs to the ginger botanical family. As an ancient spice, turmeric has long been prized in the kitchen. It has also been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years.
What Is Curcumin?
The active nutrient in turmeric is a brightly colored orange/yellow carotenoid pigment known as curcumin. Curcumin is further classified as a xanthophyll. The eye super-nutrients, zeaxanthin and lutein, are also xanthophylls. While only zeaxanthin and lutein are concentrated in the light-sensitive retina, curcumin acts to support eye health with its antioxidant properties. These properties help to mitigate oxidative stress associated with ocular surface issues (occasional dry eye) and age-related eye health issues.
Benefits of Curcumin
While there is still much to learn, the actions of curcumin have been studied extensively. It has been shown that curcumin has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Curcumin also delays gastric emptying after a meal, which has beneficial effects on blood sugar regulation. More recently, curcumin is showing much promise as a neural-protectant. Finally, it acts as an immune modulator, helping to regulate cell function against cancer.
How Do You Get These Benefits?
The curcumin in turmeric root is not in a form readily digestible or available for our bodies to absorb. When turmeric is gently heated in oil, the curcumin becomes more available for absorption. Since curcumin is a fat-soluble nutrient, the oil also enhances the bioavailability. In traditional Indian cuisine, turmeric is lightly stir-fried in oil along with other spices and vegetables, promoting maximum absorption. Add black pepper to your favorite curry recipe, as it dramatically increases the body’s ability to absorb curcumin. However, do not boil curcumin in water and/or heat it under pressure as it will be diminished or destroyed.
The Turmeric & Ginger Tea© I have designed for you maximizes the health benefits of turmeric. Fresh turmeric is grated into a heavy saucepan with diluted milk (whole, coconut, soy, or almond). Grated turmeric has a very high concentration of curcumin. Quality milk is a healthy source of fat. The mixture is heated only to a simmer, covered, and then steeped off heat, thus retaining all its goodness. Serve with a garnish of black pepper. The holiday stress this year will be dispatched with taste and grace!