the superfood in your spice rack

Sitting innocuously between the ground cinnamon and dried oregano, turmeric wasonce only brought out of our cupboards to lace a curry or kedgeree. Now this vibrantorange spice has been pinpointed by Google’s Food Trends report as a ‘breakoutstar’ ingredient of 2016, with searches soaring 56 per centfrom since last November.

It seems everyone’s clamouring to add a dash of turmeric to their recipes. DeliciouslyElla makes a turmeric hummus, Nigella sprinkles it in cauliflower soup, The ModernPantry’s Anna Hansen whizzes the stuff into a mango smoothie. Google’s reportfound that legions of us are turning to YouTube to clue up on how to incorporate itinto our diets, with the top five videos clocking a combined 3.9m views.

Bringing a warming, peppery flavour with a hint of bitterness, one of the most popularways to lap up the super spice is in hot drinks. The Hemsley sisters brew a turmerictea, but it’s the turmeric latte that’s flying out of cafes from San Francisco to Sydney.

“Use the dried root if you can get it, steep in boiling water, strain and add milk andhoney,” advises British health consultant Louise Ramsden. “Ginger and cinnamonare optional extras.” Opinion is divided over the best milk to use almond (accordingto Goop and California’s Caf Gratitude), coconut (as at vegan caf Nama in NottingHill) or cashew (gourmet magazine Bon Appetit).

It’s even becoming a buzzword in beauty products: Kiehl’s has launched a turmericand cranberry seed face mask, while Net a Porter sells a turmeric infused moisturizerfor 124.

The surging interest in turmeric is largely due to turmeric’s myriad of purported healthbenefits a staggeringly long list that spans from acne and arthritis to heart diseaseand Parkinsons. Gesichtsmaske It’s been used medicinally in South Asia for some 4,000 years, withtraces of the spice detected on ancient pottery and teeth in the Indus River.

Pedro Pina, Global Client Partner for Top Food Brands at Google, says: “We’reseeing an overall increase in searches for ‘functional foods’ foods which providebenefits beyond satiety. With greater access to information, people are taking greaterinterest in understanding all the different ways in which ingredients impact theirbodies.”

Much recent research has focused on the powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatoryproperties of curcumin, a molecule found in the turmeric root. “Anything that relievesinflammation will be indicative in improving a long list of health complaints includingindigestion, ageing, diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” Ramsden says. Accordingto the Alzheimer’s Society, curcumin’s ability to break down amyloid beta plaques (ahallmark of the disease) earmarks it as a potential component in the development offuture treatments.

Meanwhile, a study by the Government Medical College inBhavnagar, India found that curcumin supplementation was as effective as Prozac attreating the symptoms of depression.

It seems we’ve had gold dust languishing in our spice racks all along.

One thing to bear in mind, though you’d have to glug a lot of turmeric lattes to seeany of these possible benefits, since the spice we buy in the shops typically containsjust five per cent curcumin. You could be better off taking a turmeric supplement,formulated to pack in 95 per centcurcumin. Or pair it with black pepper. One study foundthis combination sent body’s absorption of curcumin skyrocketing 2,000 per cent.