What is turmeric powder, really? From a botanical perspective, turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family. But most of us aren’t botanists, so let’s look at it in layman’s terms: turmeric is a plant native to southeast Asia and related to ginger.
To create the orange-yellow powder you are most likely familiar with, part of the plant is boiled for some time and dried in a hot oven. Once dried, it is ground into a fine powder and sold for use in cooking, medicinal remedies, skin treatments and more.
Turmeric has been used throughout much of Asia and the Middle East for thousands of years, most notably as the primary ingredient in most curries. Today, it’s a popular form of alternative therapy for a variety of conditions, diseases and ailments, and can also be used as a natural immune system booster and health supplement.
The value of turmeric in various cultural traditions has been backed up by various studies and modern research, which have analysed the benefits of turmeric on various parts of the body — as well as the benefits of curcumin, one of the main ingredients found in turmeric.
Aside from having a great flavour kick, turmeric offers numerous health benefits. Two of the most prevalent are its role as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, both of which make it an effective combatant to a huge number of health issues.
The key ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, but it can be difficult to properly absorb a significant amount through turmeric powder on its own. The TurmeriX formula blend addressed this problem with a combination of raw turmeric powder and other ingredients that help activate the curcumin contained within the powder. These also aid absorption, ensuring your body can soak up enough curcumin to see the benefits.
While curcumin is an ingredient in turmeric, it gets confusing when you see products marketed with both names. If turmeric has curcumin, is that the same as a curcumin supplement? Which offers the most health benefits, turmeric or curcumin?
Firstly, it’s important to identify the difference between the two. Turmeric powder is the powder created by boiling, drying and crushing part of the plant, resulting in a blend that contains a concentration of curcumin plus several other naturally occurring ingredients of turmeric. Since curcumin is seen as the most beneficial ingredient, curcumin supplements aim to isolate and further concentrate curcumin without focusing on any other ingredients found in turmeric.
Curcumin itself is part of a group of curcuminoids and is the bioactive ingredient of turmeric. It carries anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, chemosensitising and immunomodulatory properties, and is able to have a positive interaction with cells at the molecular level.
Aside from its numerous advantages, curcumin can be concentrated into its own supplement due to bioavailability – a term that refers to how much of a substance is available to the body to cause a pharmacological effect. Turmeric powder on its own has poor bioavailability, while some curcumin supplements have high bioavailability.
However, rather than isolating curcumin from turmeric, it’s possible to activate it and improve absorption by using another ingredient. Black pepper is one of the most widely known activators and is present in TurmeriX along with other key ingredients. This dramatically improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making it one of the best ways to ingest it.
Now that you know more about turmeric, you might want to know more about fresh turmeric vs powder.
Fresh turmeric rhizomes are simply the roots of the plant before they are ground to make the powder. They look much like ginger and have a lively flavour that can be used in sautés and smoothies. You can prepare them by cutting into cubes, flat circles or matchsticks, grated with a cheese grater or juiced for a smoothie. Fresh turmeric can be found in most large supermarkets in addition to Indian and Asian grocery stores.
Dried turmeric involves peeling, boiling and oven-drying the roots (known as rhizomes) before grinding them into a powder. While it may lose some minor freshness and pungency during this process, the powder carries a vibrant colour and offers more diversity in use. Raw turmeric powder like TurmeriX can be used to make drinks, curries, salads, sauces, dressings, and even skin cream with minimal effort, making it a popular option.
So turmeric is a major ingredient in curry – does that mean curry powder is the same as turmeric powder? What are the differences? Which is better? Once again, it’s easy to get confused when comparing the two, so here’s all you need to know about curry powder vs turmeric.
As we know, turmeric is a plant that can be ground into a powder and combined with other ingredients to make an effective health supplement. However, we also know that it has been used in curries for thousands of years, and cooks today often simply use curry powder to make the dish.
To put it simply, curry powder is typically a blend of spices – often but not always including turmeric, chilli and cumin – ranging from mild to very spicy. While those that do contain turmeric carry some of its associated health benefits, they do differ in terms of vitamin and mineral concentration.
One of the major similarities between turmeric powder and curry powder is that they both contain curcumin – curry powder containing it due to its use of turmeric. This makes both powders popular as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, in addition to various benefits associated with digestion, brain function, protection from diseases and more.
One key difference is iron content, with turmeric edging out curry powder as a better source. While a typical tablespoon of raw turmeric powder contains an average of 5.2mg of iron, a tablespoon of typical curry powder contains just 1.2mg. Maintaining a healthy iron intake aids oxygen transportation through the bloodstream, boosts immune function, and encourages cell regeneration.
Turmeric also takes the cake when it comes to manganese content, offering 1.9mg per tablespoon compared to the 0.52mg found in a tablespoon of curry powder. Manganese helps wounds heal more effectively and assists the body when it comes to fighting off diseases.
Updated April 2019. Originally published: July 2017.