Foods rich in antioxidants play an essential role in preventing sickness and disease.   An antioxidant is a substance that protects your cells against free radical damage and oxidative stress caused by the effects of toxic exposures such as processed food, radiation, smoke, etc.  Free radicals, if not controlled, cause cellular damage, degeneration of immune system which leads to infections and even cancer.  By increasing your antioxidant intake, one can reduce their risk of chronic disease. It may come as a surprise to you that herbs and spices are some of the most potent antioxidants.

One of the most widely known herbs and antioxidants is turmeric.  This herb is valued for its medicinal properties and warm, peppery flavor.  This yellow-orange spice has been referred to as the  “holy powder” for over 5,000 years in the Indian culture.   Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine believe that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may help with arthritis, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.   Turmeric is also known to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by eliminating plaque buildup in the brain which may explain why “Alzheimer’s among Indian people aged 70-79 is less than one-quarter that of the U.S.”   Four of the most common U.S. cancers–colon, breast, prostate and lung–are 10 times lower in India where turmeric is widely used.  Numerous studies have found turmeric to  decrease inflammation, improve digestion, enhance liver function, inhibit the rapid increase of tumor cells, and help your body destroy cancer cells.

When you are shopping, make sure you choose a pure turmeric powder, rather than curry  because curry powders have been shown to contain small amounts of the active ingredient, curcumin.  Turmeric tastes great in your stews, soups, and sauces.  Add it to your meat before you toss it on the grill to help prevent the formation of cancer causing compounds produced when one barbecues, grills, broils, or fries food.  This spice is one of nature’s tasty secret weapons that you can use to make your food taste great while reaping the wonderful benefits of antioxidants and the ability to fight off chronic disease.

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