Turmeric is not just a popular spice in the kitchen but it’s also known to have several great health benefits.
When scientists took a closer look at turmeric and its individual compounds, they discovered curcumin.
But what’s the difference between curcumin and turmeric? Is one better than the other? We find out more about what curcumin is and how it differs from turmeric.
What’s The Difference Between Turmeric And Curcumin?
Curcumin is the natural compound that can be found in the root of the turmeric plant.
Curcumin is what gives turmeric root its bright yellow color. This natural turmeric ingredient is also sometimes known as a carotenoid compound.
In addition to curcumin, there are also two other known compounds in turmeric, including bisdemethoxycurcumin and demethoxycurcumin.
All three of these turmeric compounds combined are called curcuminoids.
Carotenoids, such as curcumin, give turmeric its vibrant color. It also allows turmeric plants to absorb more light which it requires for energy production.
Curcumin contains a range of antioxidants which fight free radicals that could damage the plant’s cells.
Is Curcumin Better Than Turmeric?
Some people say that curcumin is better than turmeric. However, there is near scientifically proven evidence that any of the two is better.
Many nutritionist advise that you should get your nutrients from whole foods as only the combination of the nutrients inside the food provide all the health benefits.
This means that only eating raw turmeric root or grated would give you all the goodness in turmeric.
On the other hand, if you had turmeric as a powder or just as an extract, this medicinal herb may be easier to digest.
But it’s also important to consider how your body can absorb turmeric and curcumin.
Scientists found that neither curcumin nor turmeric is particularly well absorbed, especially when taken on an empty stomach.
Turmeric root contains natural oils which may aid absorption. This allows you to combine turmeric also easier with other oily foods when cooking.
You can also take turmeric as capsules, a tincture or as a delicious drink.
On the other hand, curcumin as a supplement can also be easily combined with fatty acids, such as fish.
The best way to increase the absorption of both curcumin and turmeric is by adding some black pepper.
Black pepper prevents the breaking up of the turmeric compounds during digestion. This means turmeric and curcumin can stay (see also: How Long Does Turmeric Stay In Your System?)in your body for long.
The Benefits Of Curcumin
Turmeric contains a good amount of curcumin, and many turmeric supplements have a significant level of curcumin.
Studies have shown that curcumin has a range of anti-inflammatory properties which have proven to be more effective than Aspirin and Ibuprofen.
Curcumin can possibly also treat inflammatory joint conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
A specific study with post-menopausal women and healthy men found that curcumin can protect heart health and improves overall cardiovascular health.
It helps to regulate the blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Curcumin is also considered by herbalists as a treatment for a variety of cancer types, including gastric cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
However, there is currently no scientific evidence to proof that curcumin can fight cancerous cells.
There has been a small study with curcumin and type 2 diabetes patients. Patients who took curcumin as a supplement had significantly lower blood sugar levels.
The Benefits Of Turmeric
While curcumin is a powerful compound which has proven to have antioxidant anti-inflammatory properties, there are likely some other compounds in turmeric which provide additional benefits.
Turmeric has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. It’s not just good for arthritis but has also been proven to protect your brain as you age.
As turmeric contains a range of different plant compounds, it also has a wide variety of benefits.
There are studies that looked at these individual health effects, including the antifungal activity of turmeric.
This showed that turmeric as a root inhibits fungal growth. While curcumin can also reduce fungal growth, there have been better results with turmeric.
Similar results have been discovered in a study with cancer cells, where turmeric managed to suppress the growth of cancer cells much better than with curcumin alone.
Saying this, there are many more turmeric studies needed to find out the exact effect of each compound.
As turmeric contains curcumin, it’s difficult to say which is responsible for the individual health benefits.
While turmeric and curcumin have quite a few differences, they also have some similar properties.
Both turmeric and curcumin can reduce inflammation in the body, including joint inflammation as a result of osteoarthritis.
Curcumin and turmeric also help to regulate body fat and improve blood sugar levels. Studies have also shown that they reduce the effects of diabetes.
Turmeric as well as curcumin improve the health of your heart, blood vessels and heart membranes, lowering the risk of heart disease.
In a study with rats, scientists found that curcumin and turmeric extract helped to protect the animals from chronic liver damage.
While there have only been a few studies with turmeric and curcumin on the effects of tumor cells, both substances may be able to reduce any activity in cancer cells for different cancer types.
Both turmeric and curcumin also show strong antibacterial and antifungal effects. They reduce the growth rate of bacteria that causes diseases.
Turmeric contains curcumin, so there are a few differences and similarities between the two.
However, it’s difficult for scientists to identify exactly which turmeric compound is responsible for what health effect. This requires a lot more research.
Whether you choose curcumin or turmeric is your choice. Turmeric has a lot more active compounds than curcumin, although curcumin may be more beneficial for certain conditions.
Before you take any turmeric or curcumin supplements, it’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare practitioner or herbalist to find out how much you should take.