orange yellow colour derived from the root of the curcuma (turmeric)
Apart from its culinary uses, turmeric is used as a preservative,
colorant and flavouring agent in many food products including baked
foods, pickles and meat products.
The yellow-flowered turmeric
plant is a member of the ginger family. It is grown in Indonesia,
China, India and other parts of the tropics, where the dried aromatic
root-like stem is ground to form a powder. It contains yellow-coloured
curcumin, the key active component, and also an orange-coloured
volatile oil. The herb has been shown to have a positive effect
on a variety of medical conditions.
Turmeric is an essential flavouring
spice of Indian and other cuisine. The Turmeric rhizome provides
the typical yellow colour of many curry dishes and helps to make
the food more digestible.
Turmeric can be artificially
produced and has found application in canned beverages, baked products,
fish fingers, dairy products, ice cream, yoghurts, yellow cakes,
biscuits, popcorn-colour, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces,
gelatines, direct compression tablets, etc. In combination with
Annatto (E160b) it has been used to colour
cheeses, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine.
It is also used in product systems
that are packaged to protect them from sunlight. The oleoresin is
used for oil-containing products. The curcumin / polysorbate solution
or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water containing
products. Over-colouring, such as in pickles, relishes and mustard,
is sometimes used to compensate for fading.
Investigations into the low incidence
of colo-rectal cancer amongst ethnic groups with a large intake
of curries compared with the indigenous population have discovered
that some active ingredients of Turmeric appear to have anti-cancer
properties. Second stage trials of a Turmeric-based drug to treat
cancer are currently underway.
Possible side effects
Turmeric appears to be very safe in recommended doses. However,
there is some evidence to suggest that – because turmeric
enhances the release of bile in the liver, high doses should not
be taken by people with gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute
bilious colic or toxic liver disorders.
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