Unveiling the Golden Benefits of Turmeric for Cardiovascular Wellness
As we celebrate the season of love this Valentine's Day, let's take a moment to turn our attention to the health of the wonderful, beating heart. In this blog we explore the impact of inflammation on cardiovascular health and the magic of turmeric as a powerful anti-inflammatory, followed by some simple ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet.
A large number of studies have proved that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has a variety of biological activities, among which anti-inflammatory effect is a significant feature of it.
The role of inflammation in heart disease
It has long been known that inflammation plays a significant role in the development and progression of heart disease. While inflammation is a natural and essential part of the body's immune (defence) response, for example to acute injury or infection, it’s chronic or persistent inflammation that can lead to problems.
Chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) on the walls of arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world, of which heart disease is one, as stated by The World Health Organization (WHO).
What exactly is chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is also referred to as slow, long-term inflammation lasting for prolonged periods of several months to years.
When your body activates your immune system, it releases inflammatory chemicals into the system. These chemicals attack bacteria or heal damaged tissue. If your body continues to elicit this inflammatory response even when you’re not sick or injured, you may have chronic inflammation. In this case, the inflammatory is more low-grade and persistent - hence the term “chronic inflammation”. You can think of it as tiny little fires constantly burning systematically and your system constantly trying to put them out.
Whilst the body is always busy trying to put out the little fires, it has little resources left to perform other important, regulatory jobs.
How is chronic inflammation linked to heart disease?
Atherosclerosis formation - Chronic inflammation can damage the endothelium (inner lining) of blood vessels, making it more susceptible to the accumulation of cholesterol and other substances.
Inflammatory cytokines and cells, such as white blood cells, move into the arterial walls to address the perceived damage, leading to the formation of plaques in the arterial walls.
Over time, these plaques can grow, leading to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries.
Over time, this can cause the plaques to weaken the fibrous cap covering them, leading to a potential plaque rupture, which can expose its contents to the bloodstream, triggering the formation of blood clots (thrombosis).
Chronic inflammation is also associated with heart failure, as chronic inflammatory signals can contribute to the remodelling of the heart, impairing its ability to pump blood effectively.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Various lifestyle factors can contribute to chronic inflammation, such as sedentary lifestyles, chronic/persistent stress, poor sleep, high alcohol consumption, smoking, diets high in ultra processed foods and sugar, high blood glucose and insulin levels, and being overweight or obese. Other factors such as persistent/unaddressed viral or bacterial infections can also lead to chronic inflammation. Examples of these infections include mould toxicity, H.pylori infection, gut parasites, and bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the gut.
As a first step, addressing these areas is crucial in any quest to manage and reduce chronic inflammation, addressing the ROOT CAUSE is always the first place to start. Then, there are various agents that we can use in the diet that have been shown to exert anti inflammatory effects in the body, which would be another crucial way to start managing and reducing chronic inflammation.
How curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties may contribute to heart health
Curcumin is the active ingredient in the yellow-orange spice turmeric. It has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties (which is why we include it in our ZEN juice!)
You can think of turmeric as throwing a fire blanket over the above-mentioned inflammatory little fires, helping to extinguish them. A large number of studies have proved that curcumin has a variety of biological activities, among which anti-inflammatory effect is a significant feature of it.
One study explains that curcumin can suppress pro-inflammatory pathways related with most chronic diseases and block both the production of TNF, a pro-inflammatory cytokine, and the cell signaling mediated by TNF in various types of cells.
A 2021 study said that “Curcumin is a natural compound with great potential for disease treatment”
Simple ways to get more turmeric into your diet
Turmeric is a versatile spice with a warm, bitter taste that can be easily incorporated into various dishes.
Here are some simple ways to get more turmeric into your diet:
Mix pure turmeric powder with a cup of warm milk (dairy or plant-based). Add a touch of honey or other natural sweetener for flavour if required.
Soups, stews and stir fries:
Sprinkle turmeric into soups, stews, bolognese and chillies. It also goes well with lentils, vegetables, and hearty broths. Make it a staple in stir fries along with garlic, onion and red chilli.
Cook your rice with a pinch of turmeric every time, along with a pinch of sea salt to enhance the flavour.
Turmeric roasted vegetables:
Toss chopped vegetables like cauliflower, aubergine, peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes with some olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and turmeric before roasting.
Turmeric dressings and sauces:
Blend turmeric with olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and a touch of honey to drizzle over salads or use as a sauce for grilled meats.
Add a pinch of turmeric to homemade hummus for a vibrant yellow hue and an extra layer of flavour and spice.
Turmeric scrambled eggs:
Sprinkle turmeric into scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas. Pair it with fresh herbs like parsley or coriander.
Steep freshly grated or powdered turmeric in a cup of hot water. Enhance the flavour with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a slice of ginger.
Add a pinch of pure turmeric powder or freshly grated turmeric root to your smoothies. Combine it with mixed (fresh or frozen) berries and a little banana to mask the flavour.
A daily JUNIUS ZEN juice:
Subscribe to a weekly box of our award-winning ZEN juice, which includes a 35g dose of powerful anti-inflammatory turmeric root, enhanced with vitamin C from zingy lemon, balanced out with gut soothing aloe vera.
Remember, a little turmeric goes a long way, and it's essential to balance its flavour in dishes. Experiment with these ideas to find the best ways to incorporate turmeric into your meals and enjoy its potential health benefits.
This Valentine's Day, let's not only revel in the warmth of romantic gestures but also embrace the gift of heart health. After all, a healthy heart is the ultimate valentine we give to ourselves and our loved ones. We hope that you’ve found this blog helpful for just that.