Even if you've never heard of turmeric, chances are you've consumed it at least once or twice over the course of your life. It's a frequent ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern foods -- it's the yellow spice that flavors both curry and mustard. Turmeric plays an important role in traditional Indian medicine and has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years.
Turmeric's benefits are as diverse as they are numerous. It can cure bladder infections and diarrhea, help improve liver function and lower cholesterol. Some believe that turmeric speeds up the metabolism, which can greatly enhance dieters' weight loss. There's evidence that suggests turmeric can be used to slow down the advance of Alzheimer's disease and the growth of certain cancers. There are even ongoing tests to see if this fragrant yellow spice can help treat HIV.
Despite the fact that turmeric is an essential ingredient in two highly flavorful foods -- curry and mustard -- it can be added in small amounts to eggs, rice and chili without noticeably affecting the taste of the meal. Because it is a pungent spice, a little goes a long way, so use a light hand when incorporating turmeric into your diet.