Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a yellow colored spice native to South Asia. It is the main spice in curry and the ingredient that gives the intense yellow color to mustard. It is commonly used in Indian, Iranian and Pakistani cuisine.
Turmeric has been listed on Google’s 2016 Food Trends Report as top trending food with a function and was named no.1 “rising star”. This indicates that the number of people searching and trying to understand how to use turmeric is increasing. And for a good reason.
Studies have shown that turmeric is the most powerful plant at fighting and preventing diseases. It is also the most studied medicinal plant currently, leaving garlic, ginger, ginseng and cinnamon behind. Its healing compound curcumin has been proven to be more effective than many prescription drugs in the treatment of various diseases and conditions, including depression.
Turmeric for Depression
The numbers say that one in ten adult Americans suffers from depression. The fact that depression is expected to become the world’s second leading cause of disability by 2020 is even more startling, bearing in mind that it is the most common cause of suicidal deaths in young people.
The standard treatment for this mental illness are prescription drugs. The problem is that antidepressants have many adverse side effects, including anxiety, diabetes, seizures, sexual dysfunction, even coma and death. These side effects cause many patients to give up therapy and accept their illness as part of their life and never achieve full remission.
New studies show that curcumin has the same antidepressant benefits as the standard antidepressant medication without the side effects.
Here is how turmeric works against depression:
- Boosts neurotransmitters such as dopamine (improving pleasure and emotion), norepinephrine (learning, attentiveness, and sleeping) and serotonin (mood, sleep, appetite, memory, sexual functioning) in the brain;
- Prevents progressive neurodegeneration (loss of the function of brain neurons), which often occurs along with depression;
- Acts as an anti-oxidant. Depression can be caused by brain oxidative stress, which is caused by oxygen and glucose deficiency in the brain. Curcumin fights free radicals, repairs the damage caused by free radicals and increases the antioxidant levels in the body;
- Controls inflammation, which has been linked to depression, by inhibiting compounds that produce chronic inflammation.
Other Health Benefits of Turmeric
Besides its antidepressant benefits, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties provide additional health benefits. Turmeric can be used for prevention and treatment of the following conditions:
- Cancer. Curcumin in turmeric inhibits the growth and development of cancer cells and is most effective in the treatment of breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, and skin cancer;
- Arthritis. Studies have shown that curcumin is more beneficial than the standard arthritis medication due to the absence of side effects that can result in heart disease;
- Diabetes. Curcumin lowers blood sugar and controls hyperglycemia and insulin resistance, which can help reverse Type 2 diabetes;
- High cholesterol. Standard drugs that lower cholesterol levels can harm the liver and the kidneys. Curcumin, on the other hand, addresses the root causes for increased cholesterol levels – oxidative stress and inflammation;
- Osteoporosis. Curcumin inhibits the growth of inflammatory cells that damage the cartilage and the bones and result in osteoporosis. Patients that received curcumin therapy showed decreased joint pain and increased joint function;
- Chronic pain. Curcumin is more frequently prescribed instead corticosteroids and pain-killers in the management of chronic diseases and chronic pain. It affects the opioid system in the brain which is responsible for pain relieve and has no side effects whatsoever.
How to Consume Turmeric
Turmeric supplements can be found in the form of capsules, fluid extracts or tinctures. These supplements should be taken with caution because higher doses may cause complications in pregnant and lactating women, as well as in people suffering from diabetes and gallstones.
The best and safest way to consume turmeric is in its natural form, as a powdery spice. There is no specific dosage, but 1 teaspoon or 5-6g a day has been proven helpful.
You can add turmeric to both sweet and savory dishes, as well as drinks, such as:
- Turmeric tea
- Turmeric milk
- Banana bread
- Scrambled eggs
- Sautéed vegetables
- Fish and meat
To sum up, turmeric is one of the most beneficial foods. Its most powerful ingredient is curcumin, which helps treat and prevent various conditions, such as depression, with no adverse side effects. Turmeric can be used in various dishes to satisfy your daily needs.
Turmeric, or the miracle spice, is a yellow Indian spice that comes from the plant Curcuma longa in the form of a powdered rhizome. It is the central spice in curry, so it is no surprise that it is native to southern Asia.
Besides being the main ingredient in Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani cuisine, these past few years its presence is more noticeable in the western cuisine and medicine.
But its vibrant yellow color and the distinctive scent are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its properties.
The Curcuma longa contains the linear diarylheptanoid, curcuminoid, which not only gives the turmeric its yellow color, but it is the source of its medicinal properties.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a cure-all.
In fact, over 6000 studies are currently engaged in researching curcumin and its benefits, and findings that in comparison with conventional medicine turmeric is equally or even more powerful, don’t lack.
Turmeric can help with anything from arthritis, to heartburn (dyspepsia), from stomach pain and diarrhea to gallbladder disorders.
Turmeric as a Pain Reliever
It has long been spoken of the role of turmeric as a pain reliever. Its ability to manage pain has been supported by many a research, and it turns out that the curcumin activates the opioid receptors in the brain, which in turn leads to a pain-relieving response.
This is why whenever you are experiencing a headache, have menstrual cramps, stomach ache or any other type of ache that is too strong to handle and too mild for painkillers, prepare some turmeric tea.
And even for more severe cases, such as with burn victims, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research advocates for the use of curcumin instead of the conventional possibly dangerous opioids and painkillers. Yet another proof that turmeric is a better remedy than the commercially available ones.
Turmeric Tea Recipes
All of the below given recipes have one thing in common: They are Effective. So choosing one is only a matter of preference.
Remember to always go for a good quality turmeric powder or use grated fresh turmeric root for your tea.
This is basically a staple recipe, the tangy flavors of the lemon and ginger complement the spiciness of the cayenne pepper.
1 cup of boiling water
1/8 tablespoon ground ginger
1/8 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Honey to taste
- Turmeric Tea with a Twist
The cinnamon gives this tea a delicious scent, while simultaneously enhancing its health benefits.
2 cups of boiling water
1 lemongrass tea bag
2-teaspoon ground turmeric
1-inch fresh ginger root
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
If you want to drink a tea without the watery sensation, then go for this coconut milk recipe. Ingredients
1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon turmeric
A pinch cayenne pepper
½ inch finely chopped ginger root
1 ½ teaspoon of honey (or stevia)
Exotic and incredibly healthy, the turmeric got the nickname miracle spice with a reason!
One of the most delicious cuisines of the world, Moroccan food bursts with flavors, aromas, and spices paired in the most unexpected ways. Moroccan food is influenced by Arabic, Andalusian, and French cuisine which results in an incredible variety of exotic ingredients and combinations.
Staple Moroccan Foods
Morocco produces a great number of Mediterranean and tropical fruits & veggies. When it comes to meat, due to the predominant Muslim religion, pork is restricted (as is alcohol) but all other meats are used – beef, chicken, goat, mutton, and lamb, as well as seafood. Some traditional recipes also call for pigeon.
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Like all Mediterranean cuisines, Moroccan staples are wheat, which is used for making couscous and bread, olive oil, and grapes, which are eaten fresh, or in their dry form added to desserts and even to savory dishes.
The unique flavor combinations are made with the use of argan oil, olive oil, lemon pickle, and dried fruits, especially plums and raisins, as well as a wide array of fresh herbs and spices.
Spices are an indispensable feature of Moroccan food. Among those extensively used are saffron, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, turmeric, ginger, cumin, pepper, paprika, sesame seeds, fennel, anise, oregano, cayenne pepper, etc. Furthermore, there is a wide selection of herbs such as mint, parsley, coriander, peppermint, marjoram, and sage.
A typical lunch in Marocco begins with salads, followed by a tagine. For special occasions, meat-based dishes are chosen, with lamb or chicken being favorite meat types, combined with vegetables and couscous. People in Morocco either eat with their hands or use standard utensils, depending on the dish.
Visiting this vibrant country is a great idea, but you don’t have to take a trip in order to enjoy amazing Moroccan foods. The recipes we’ve selected will allow you to indulge in the flavors of Morocco in the comfort of your own home!
Probably the most popular Moroccan food, couscous is prepared regularly throughout the country. Recently it has also conquered the States and Europe where it is often used as a rice substitute. Couscous is quite neutral in taste which allows you to combine it with virtually anything. Moroccan people usually cook it with seven vegetables and/or meat, usually lamb, chicken, or beef.
In our recipe, colorful bell peppers do double-duty in this fun dish—they are “baking cups” for a savory couscous blend as well as a sweet treat themselves.
Tagine is the clay pot with a conical lid that gives the name to a number of dishes. This Moroccan food is so popular, it is literally prepared everywhere, from roadside cafes to elegant restaurants.
When it comes to tagines, combinations are endless, but the most famous representative is probably the slow-cooked stew. When making this Moroccan food, the ingredients are arranged in a conical shape and left to cook until tender. When done, the tagine is served with Moroccan bread called khobz which is used for scooping directly from the pot.
Although it is not the easiest dish to make, Harira is the most beloved Moroccan soup. In fact, it is the first meal people in Morocco have to end the daily fasting during the month of Ramadan. This Moroccan food appears in a great number of variations, but the most common one is the tomato-based version which also includes beef or lamb stock, chickpeas and lentils. Noodles or rice can also be added. Serve it with chopped coriander and a drizzle of lemon juice.
Pastilla is a traditional Spanish Andalusian dish popularized in Marocco by Andalusian people who migrated to Fez. Nowadays, pastilla is said to be uniquely Moroccan. It is known for its intricate ingredient combinations and rich taste. The name of this Moroccan food comes from the Spanish word meaning ‘small pastry’. Pastilla is a pie traditionally made of squab (pigeons), whereas modern versions opt for chicken and sometimes fish or offal. It is often served as an entrée.
Chermoula is a traditional Moroccan marinade made of a mixture of herbs, lemon juice, oil, garlic, pickled lemons, cumin, and salt. Some versions also include onions, ground chili peppers, fresh coriander, or saffron. Chermoula is usually used to flavor seafood and fish, but it can also be used on other meats, as well as vegetables.
Shakshouka is a staple food in Arab and Israeli cuisines served in a tajine or a cast iron pan, with bread on the side. Its name translates as “mixture” and that is just what it is – a combination of eggs poached in a tomato sauce, onions, and chili peppers. The most commonly used spice is cumin.
- Chicken Bake
Chicken is one of the favorite meat choices in Morocco and it is found in a large variety of dishes. Our recipe, which is perfect for special occasion and family gatherings, reflects the contrasts of Moroccan cuisine. The chicken is baked with couscous, raisins, green olives, and spices. You can vary the amount of ground cumin to taste but don’t omit it; it gives this Moroccan food its authentic nutty taste.
The waters along Morocco’s coastline abound in sardines, which means that these small, delicious, and healthy fish are amply used in Moroccan cousine. For a quick fix, you can grill or bake them. However, the most popular version is stuffed and fried fillets, served with charmoula or pickled lemons. We offer a healthy, paleo salad that will satisfy your huger without compromising your well-being!
Moroccan style baklava is usually made with almonds, the nut ingenious to the country. They are used to prepare a nutty filling that is placed between layers of very thin pastry. The sweet-and-sticky syrup is flavored with orange flower water. Instead of the syrup used in the recipe above, try this one. Boil 1 cup granulated sugar in a cup of water until the sugar is melted. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ cup honey. Simmer for 20 minutes, then spoon over the baked baklava. Let it soak in, about 2 hours.
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- Mint Tea
Moroccan mint tea (also known as Moorish tea) is green tea mixed with spearmint leaves, sugar, and boiled water. It is traditional to a great part of the Maghreb region (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and Mauritania). Mint tea is an integral part of the social life in Morocco and is consumed throughout the day. Traditionally, when a guest arrives, the head male of the house prepares and serves it in a ceremonial form. Nowadays, as a result of cuisine globalization, mint tea appears in a number of refreshing beverages and cocktails like our sweet mint tea juleps.
Malaysian food is influenced by Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Indonesian cuisine. This is reflected in the way spices are combined, as well as in the use of wok pans.
Just like in other Asian cuisines, rice is the main staple food. The most common type is local or Thai rice, as well as Indian basmati rice. Noodles are another staple, as are breads originating in India such as idli, dosa, and puri, which are usually served for breakfast.
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Malaysian food is quite spicy, with chili being one of the main spices, followed by cumin, and cardamom. A hot spicy sauce called sambal is served with almost every dish in the country. In addition, there is a plethora of herbs like coriander, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and fenugreek, all of which make Malaysian food very fragrant.
Nasi lemak translates as ‘fatty rice’ or ‘rice in cream’. It is a dish of steamed rice combined with coconut milk and complemented with dried anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, peanuts, cucumber, dried shrimp, and spiced with sambal. Nasi lemak is considered Malaysia’s national dish and is eaten throughout the whole day. It is often served along with curries or rendang stew (beef cooked in coconut milk & spices).
The spicy noodle soup laksa has two main types – curry laksa and asam laksa. Curry laksa is the richer variety due to the usage of coconut, combined with a spice paste called rempah. This paste contains ginger, turmeric, chilis, lemongrass, and belacan (shrimp paste or shrimp sauce). Then, noodles are added and topped with shrimp, tofu, eggs, fish balls, and cucumber.
The other variety, asam laksa, is based on a tamarind broth and is cooked with white fish. Noodles are a must, accompanied by cucumber and pineapple, and spiced with ginger.
If you thought this dish was Thai, don’t be confused. Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia all have their own versions of satay. Malaysian satay characterizes with a sweet-and-spicy peanut sauce and meat marinated in local spices. Speaking of spices, turmeric is always used to add the signature yellow color. Serve it with onions, cucumber slices, and ketupat (rice cakes).
Popiah are fried spring rolls that are a popular snack with almost every ethnic group in Malaysia. The ingredients used in this crispy appetizer are quite versatile. They are often filled with shredded yams, shrimp or pork, and carrots. They can also have tofu, beans, or mushrooms. No matter what they’re stuffed with, the one thing that is constant for all popiah varieties is their side dish – chili sauce for dipping.
The Malaysian version of this popular dish is based on the spicy & aromatic paste rempah, and almost always includes the omnipresent coconut milk. Curry in Malaysian is served with a bowl of rice or, for dryer versions, on a banana leaf.
Roti jala are pancakes very unlike the American ones. In appearance, they are very thin and netlike, resembling French crepes. In terms of ingredients, they use coconut milk (of course!) and turmeric. In terms of cooking, the batter is rapidly drizzled in concentric circles to form a delicate shape.
This Malaysian food is almost always accompanied by a savory dish like curry but who’s stopping you from smearing them with Nutella or smothering them in maple syrup?
One of our favorite Malaysian foods, stir-fried noodles, which appear in a number of forms. The most common one is yellow noodles quickly cooked in a wok pan with garlic, soy, chilis, and shallots. Chicken, beef, shrimp, and various veggies can also be added. Mee Goreng is a very popular street food; street vendors often cook it over a charcoal fire that impairs a characteristic smoky flavor.
This Malaysian food is considered one of the most complicated to make. Like many Malay foods, it has many versions, all sharing one ingredient – noodles. Other than that, the ingredients are varying depending on the region. In the capital, Kuala Lumpur, the dish is drier, composed of stir-fried noodles combined with pork and squid, dark soy sauce, plus some pork lard.
In the northwest state of Penang, on the other hand, rice noodles form the base, along with hard-boiled eggs, shrimp stock, prawns, bean sprouts fried shallots, and sambal that build a very intense salty, acidic & fishy flavor.
Sweet Malaysian Foods
Sweet Malaysian foods are incredibly creative & colorful. During the colonial occupation by the British, teatime used to be a very important meal. The ritual was often accompanied by traditional British cookies, scones, and cakes but soon, Malaysian sweet foods were introduced. After the country became independent, the teatime tradition was kept.
Sweet Malaysian foods can be divided into two broad categories – fried desserts, which include pancakes and shaved ice, and kuihs, desserts made from glutinous rice.
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Here are some authentic Malaysian sweets you can serve with your tea.
Bahulu is a traditional sponge cake especially loved by kids. That is why it is often made in fun shapes, for instance, fish or buttons. Main ingredients are flour, sugar, and eggs. When the cake is baked, it becomes golden, soft, and crusty at the same time. It is often served along with coffee or tea.
These coconut cream cookies are the go-to choice during festive seasons like Hari Raya (literally ‘celebration day’, the day that marks the end of Ramadan). The main reason for their popularity is the sweet coconut flavor but also the fact that they literally crumble and melt in your mouth.
And in order to achieve that effect, the moisture from the flour has to be removed. The use of high-quality coconut cream is also very important in order to get that authentic taste. One more thing to take into consideration when making these cookies is they need to be white so be careful not to brown them while baking. Not only will they change the color, but they’ll also crack. We think these cookies will be perfect for Christmas!
Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that heralds the occurrence of a stable mood. In order words, it a chemical messenger known to enhance mood and eliminate the occurrence of depression and mood disorders.
Serotonin also assists one to develop healthy sleeping habits. Many scientific studies have demonstrated that serotonin levels can effect on mood and behavior, and is usually associated with pleasant feeling and can boost longevity.
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The supplements that boost serotonin levels do so by boosting your intake of the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is produced from tryptophan. Tryptophan, which increases levels of brain serotonin, is an effective antidepressant in mild-to-moderate depression. It boosts good humor, reduces squabbles and improves mood.
For a more natural method of boosting your level of serotonin, you can do so by incorporating into your diet foods that contain tryptophan. There is continuing research to establish the quantity of tryptophan-containing food that can have an effect on the brain serotonin.
It has been proven that individuals who are deficient in tryptophan frequently suffer from mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
It has also been confirmed through research that when an individual eats a diet that is low in tryptophan result to a reduction of the level of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is frequently known as “happy molecule” due how it can help an individual to maintain a stable mood. However, this idea can be a bit tricky.
Serotonin-enhancement medications used as antidepressants can result in severe side effects. They also are not effective for everyone who takes them.
Again, some foods contain serotonin. However, ironically, eating them does not improve the levels of brain serotonin. However, there are efficient ways to boost the levels of serotonin through food.
Serotonin-Rich Foods Don’t Raise Serotonin Levels
There is a common idea that high protein food sources like turkey boost the levels of brain tryptophan and serotonin. However, this is not true. Another popular belief is that bananas boost mood because they are made up of serotonin.
However, the serotonin it contains does not traverse across the blood-brain barrier and thus does not affect the levels of the serotonin in the brain. The same is applicable to other food sources mentioned below that naturally contains serotonin.
Some foods that contain serotonin naturally include the following:
- hickory nuts
Since these foods do not pass through the brain’s security system that gets rid of foreign substances, they most likely do not enter into the brain or influence mood.
Serotonin Foods and Tryptophan
A number of foods that are thought to contain serotonin foods actually contain tryptophan. Tryptophan is an antecedent amino acid to serotonin. The majorities of good sources of protein contain tryptophan.
The foods that are mostly rich in tryptophan are:
- all forms of seafood
- different types of meat
- all forms of poultry foods
Again, incorporating tryptophan-rich food into your diet is not a sure banker that they will reach your brain or be converted into serotonin similar to what eating foods that have high contents of serotonin.
Serotonin-rich foods don’t increase the levels of the blood serotonin, but specific serotonin diet and a number of foods can boost mood and assist in the treatment of health conditions like depression.
Why Foods Containing Tryptophan Do Not Increase Brain Serotonin
Purified tryptophan boosts brain serotonin while the opposite is the case for foods that contain tryptophan.
The reason is that tryptophan travels to the brain via a transport system that is active to other more abundant neutral amino acids while tryptophan is the smallest amount of amino acid contained in protein.
All these amino acids compete for the same transport system. Therefore, after an individual has eaten protein-rich food the plasma level of the more abundant neutral amino acids stops the increase in plasma tryptophan from boosting the level of brain tryptophan.
The Diet That Boosts the Levels of Brain Serotonin
To be able to boost the levels of brain serotonin, you should eat food that contains protein mainly for the tryptophan it contains. Tryptophan is a very significant building block for the synthesis of serotonin in the brain.
Nonetheless, as explained above, ironically, protein prevents the production of serotonin.
It was found that diet rich in protein results in a reduction of the levels of tryptophan and serotonin.
More worrisome is that minor quantity of protein taken together with carb foods prevents the synthesis of serotonin. However, eating too much carbohydrate has been used as self-medication to boost serotonin levels.
Research by Dr. Judith J. Wurtman at MIT found that the reason most people with binge eating disorder eat carb-rich foods is that it boosts their moods by enhancing the levels of their brain serotonin.
The research also found that the solution to the formation of serotonin through food intake is the way the food is eaten and not really the food you eat. Tactically planning the food is what is much more essential.
α-Lactalbumin, a small component of milk, is a single protein that is made up of comparatively more tryptophan than nearly all proteins. Eating a good amount of α-lactalbumin can boost mood and cognitive ability in some situations due to increase in the levels of serotonin.
It is very difficult to increase the amount of tryptophan that contains α-lactalbumin but it is possible to increase the amount of tryptophan in a diet compared to the amount of other amino acids.
Foods That Naturally Boost Serotonin Levels
There are some foods that boost the levels of serotonin naturally through different means.
Turmeric is a spice that is made up of curcumin as an active ingredient that easily passes through the blood-brain barrier and boosts the levels of brain serotonin and dopamine. It was found that curcumin supplements are very effective for treating depression like the drug Prozac for depression.
Dark chocolate is another great brain enhancer that boosts the levels of serotonin in the brain and the digestive tract. Amazingly, ninety-five percent of serotonin is found in the gut, rather than in the brain. A better choice would be to take cacao nibs. They contain mood-enhancement substance like chocolate but don’t contain sugar. They are as well not overly processed.
Green tea is a healthy drink with more than seven hundred bioactive compounds like l-theanine which boosts the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
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Cold-Water Fish Like Salmon
Individuals with low levels of serotonin regularly have low levels of DHA. This is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a very useful structural building block of the brain. Fishes like salmon with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can boost the levels of serotonin.
Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and unpasteurized sauerkraut are made up of psychobiotics that regulate the levels of good and bad bacteria in the intestines.
A surplus amount of bad bacteria produces toxic byproducts known as lipopolysaccharides which have several negative effects on the brain including reducing the levels serotonin and resulting to depression.