By: Shivani Shah
In my top left kitchen cabinet, next to the peanut butter and in front of the honey, I have a repurposed glass jar filled with mustard-yellow powder. On this unassuming jar is a haphazardly made label with the words, “take every day” in my mom’s handwriting. Per my mother’s instructions, I dissolve a heaping teaspoon in warm water and imbibe the murky concoction. Every day I try my best to not make a face at the lingering bitterness, in the name of health, of course! What is in this mystery blend? Below I’ve listed out all the individual components as well as their benefits. As a general disclaimer, be sure to consult your physician before introducing any new supplements into your diet.
1. Turmeric (and black pepper): I’m starting strong with what is likely the most familiar ingredient in the mixture. Many of you might already be supplementing your diet with turmeric, so I will use this time to briefly remind you of some of its benefits. The primary active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin is best taken with black pepper, which contains piperine. Piperine greatly increases the bioavailability (absorption into the bloodstream) of curcumin. Because curcumin is a fat-soluble compound, it is suggested to take a curcumin supplement with a meal containing fat.
2. Karela: Also known as bitter melon or Momordica charantia, karela belongs to the gourd family and is used often in Asian cooking. I was never a fan of the meals my mom made with this sinister-looking fruit; however, I would be remiss to not mention its impressive properties. Karela is a great source of many key nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and others. Karela specifically has long been used for its role in controlling blood sugar. Recent preclinical studies have confirmed that bitter melon can improve several markers of long-term blood sugar control. The mechanism by which this occurs has yet to be studied.
3. Methi: Methi, or fenugreek, is like the other ingredients I’ve listed, in that it is one of the oldest medicinally used plants, especially in Eastern cultures. It is rich in many essential nutrients and acts as a potent antioxidant. There are many reported benefits of methi consumption however, few are (currently) backed by scientific evidence. One of the better-studied effects of fenugreek are its anti-diabetic properties. Also, due to its high fiber content, methi may help regulate cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Lastly, its high antioxidant content may lend anti-inflammatory properties.
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