Spice of the Month: Turmeric

This is a spice you may not use very often, but it would be a good idea to start instituting it into your daily food habits—or at least weekly—for various reasons. Turmeric hails from the China and India regions, and is now a very common spice around the globe.

Turmeric is mainly known for being one of the ingredients used in curry, and is commonly used in South and Southeastern Asian curries and stir fry. According to Chef Lawrence Fogarty, it is also used as a base for cooking Middle Eastern cuisine. The spice has a flavor of pepper and ginger with a hint of orange. If you think you've never tasted it; think again. Turmeric gives mustard its yellow color.

Health Benefits

More important than creating a colorful feast on a hot dog, this spice offers numerous health benefits. University of Texas studies have shown that curcumin, which is the active phytochemical in turmeric, inhibits the growth of skin cancer, melanoma, as well as slowing the spread of breast cancer to the lungs.

"I am a big proponent of using food as medicine," says Fogarty. "Turmeric, while lending itself as a spice, also has antioxidant properties, is a natural detoxifier for the liver, lowers cholesterol, aids metabolism, blood circulation, has anti-inflammatory properties, and has anti-cancer properties."

There really is no good reason to not use turmeric in your diet. Perhaps scarfing down a hot dog covered in mustard isn't such a bad habit after all.

Watch for Chef Lawrence's monthly spice selection and start spicing up your kitchen.