Looking for the best fun facts about turmeric? From delicious recipes to incredible health benefits, let’s learn more about this unique yellow spice!
Chances are you’ve tasted turmeric before in a wide array of Indian cuisine – after all, it’s one of the main spices in curry powder! But there’s so much more to discover about turmeric that doesn’t have to do with food.
In fact, turmeric is quite diverse in its uses, from dyeing monk’s robes, to treating inflammation, arthritis and gingivitis. We’re absolutely positive that these fun facts about turmeric will amaze you!
We’ll take a trip to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to visit Turmeric City and then to Jejuri, India for the world’s only turmeric festival. Yes, there really is a turmeric festival!
We’ll also start to understand how important turmeric is in Hindu and Buddhist religious ceremonies. That’s right, turmeric is a lot more than a detox fad on social media!
But we won’t forget that side either – from detox tea, to golden milk, to teeth whitening, turmeric has been going viral over the past few years. Heck, even Starbucks introduced a turmeric latte.
From the humble turmeric plant, to the rhizome, to the curcumin, to the turmerone, we’re stripping down each component of turmeric and mining the advantages of this enigmatic spice.
So what do you think? Are you ready to turn up for these turmeric facts? Let’s go!
Table of Contents
21 Fun Facts About Turmeric
1. What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a flowering plant, scientifically known as Curcuma longa. A member of the ginger family, it’s the turmeric plant’s rhizomes (roots) that are used in cooking as well as dyeing.
The perennial plant is mainly grown and cultivated in India and needs an average temperature of at least 20°C (68°F) to survive.
2. Is turmeric considered a spice?
Once the rhizome of the turmeric plant is dried and ground into a powder, it becomes a spice.
The brilliant yellow color adds brightness to curries and soups, and the peppery, bitter flavor enhances many dishes, especially in Indian cuisine.
3. What do turmeric and saffron have in common?
Because of their similar color, turmeric has the nickname of Indian saffron. While saffron is difficult to grow and extremely expensive, turmeric grows in abundance and is relatively cheap.
That’s why turmeric is often used in saffron’s place in recipes or when needing yellow dye.
4. What are some of the health benefits of turmeric?
While there is no hard evidence of the health benefits of turmeric, the spice and plant has been used in non-traditional medicine for centuries.
In both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is used for treating joint pain and arthritis.
5. What is the main active ingredient in turmeric?
The active ingredient (part of the substance that produces a chemical or biological effect) in turmeric is called curcumin.
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant with clinical trials showing positive results for treating depression, cancer and heart disease.
6. An ancient Buddhist tradition
Did you know that the robes worn by Buddhist monks are yellow-orange in color because of turmeric?
As a rule, monks were forbidden to wear white, so turmeric was used to dye the fabric into the rich yellow we associate with Buddhist monks today. This is definitely one of the coolest fun facts about turmeric we discovered!
7. The religious symbolism of turmeric
Not only used for food and fabric dyeing, turmeric is also important in Buddhist and Hindu religious ceremonies.
In Buddhism, turmeric is a symbol of prosperity and purity. It’s often used to anoint sacred images. In Hinduism, turmeric is applied to a bride’s skin in a purification ritual and is linked to fertility and luck.
8. Where is the most turmeric grown?
When it comes to turmeric farming it isn’t even close – India produces over 80% of the world’s turmeric.
The city of Erode in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is the largest turmeric producer in the world. This can be seen reflected in the city’s nickname, “Turmeric City.”
9. Are there different varieties of turmeric?
Are you looking to become a turmeric expert? Then it’s important to learn the names of the most popular turmeric varieties out there.
See if you can commit these to memory: Nizamabad Bulb, Sangli Turmeric, Salem Turmeric, Alleppey FInger, Rajapore Turmeric. Not surprisingly, these turmerics are mainly named for where they come from in India.
10. How do you say turmeric?
Here’s some obscure turmeric facts about pronunciation that nobody asked for! Turmeric is often mispronounced “too-meric”. Instead, proper pronunciation is “ter-meric”. That pesky first R is almost always overlooked.
The origins of the word are unclear, but some believe it derives from the French terre mérite which means deserving earth.
11. Is turmeric used in food coloring?
It probably isn’t a surprise that the brilliant yellow-orange of turmeric is commonly used to dye both fabric and food. Did you know that thanks to turmeric, prepared mustard has its bright yellow color?
Other items that can be dyed with turmeric include linens, eggs, unsealed wood and even your hair!
12. Get whiter teeth with turmeric!
Did you know that brushing your teeth with turmeric whitens them? Turmeric has been used in dental hygiene in Asian medicine for centuries and is also known to prevent gingivitis.
We’re trying to make this make sense, since turmeric stains everything else yellow!
13. What famous dishes use turmeric?
Look no further than Indian cuisine to find the most iconic turmeric-based dishes. Remember, turmeric is an intense spice, so just a pinch will go a long way.
Try the rich lentil stew Masoor Dal, the spinach-based Palak Paneer, or an Indian fish curry. Also oven-baked chicken thighs rubbed with turmeric and other warm spices are delicious!
14. Is turmeric part of a diet-fad?
One of turmeric’s superpowers is its anti-inflammatory properties. This has led diet gurus to hop on the turmeric train and develop a detox drink.
1 tsp of turmeric per 1 cup of water, mixed with a dash of cinnamon and a spoonful of honey. Try it out and let us know if you notice any benefits!
15. How to turn turmeric red
Here’s a cool turmeric science experiment to try. If you cook turmeric with baking soda, the turmeric turns red!
The alkaline in the baking soda neutralizes the turmeric acids causing the color change. Simply add both powders to a little water and microwave to get a stunning red color!
16. How do I get rid of a turmeric stain?
Turmeric is literally used to dye fabric, so it’s no shock that turmeric stains anything it touches! Here’s a few tips for stubborn turmeric stains.
Wear gloves when working with turmeric or you’ll be cursed with yellow fingertips! To remove a turmeric stain from a cutting board or blender, soak it in a vinegar/water solution.
17. What are the health benefits of turmeric supplements?
If dealing with knee pain, arthritis, or inflammation, a turmeric supplement will reduce swelling and pain and also may protect against cellular damage.
Look for 500 mg capsules with at least 95% curcuminoids for the best results.
18. The turmeric festival
People celebrate by throwing turmeric in the air, filling the atmosphere with yellow powder and that intense turmeric scent. Add that one to our bucket list!
19. Turmeric has two best friends
In order to soak up the most health benefits from turmeric it is important to pair it with oil and pepper.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin is fat-soluble so the oil increases absorption. The pepper acts as a bioavailability enhancer increasing the efficacy of curcumin by up to 2,000%!
20. Have you heard of golden milk?
One of the most enduring, and now trendy, turmeric-based specialties is golden milk. Known in India as Haldi Dhood, golden milk is a combination of warmed milk, turmeric and black pepper. Throw in a shot of espresso for a turmeric latte!
21. Turmeric can save your life
Okay, we saved one of the craziest turmeric facts for last! Did you know that it was recently discovered that turmeric has anti-venom properties?
That’s right, the compound turmerone, derived from turmeric, serves as an anti-venom for the jararacussu, one of South America’s most venomous pit vipers. How amazing is that!?
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
We really hope you enjoyed all our fun facts about turmeric! Did you learn something new?
If there’s any turmeric facts we missed, you can let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article!