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Cycling nutrition: Five benefits of turmeric for cyclists

28 Sep 2018

As well as adding extra zing to your food, this Indian spice is a health-food superstar

This article first appeared in issue 45 of Cyclist magazine

If you love a curry then we’ve got good news for you: it might just be the perfect post-ride recovery meal. Go for a brown rice option with either meat, lentils or chickpeas and you’ll get plenty of protein – and therefore the amino acids – that your muscles need to recover.

But there’s another ingredient commonly found in Indian food that makes a plate of a vindaloo surprisingly good for you – and that’s turmeric.

This bright orange spice with a mustardy aroma has been linked with a number of health benefits that suggest you really should consider getting more of it into your diet, even if you’re not a fan of Indian food.

The easiest way to do that is, of course, to take a supplement such as Pukka’s Organic Turmeric capsules (£15.95 for 30 capsules) or even in a tea such as Pukka’s Turmeric Active Tea (£2.49 for 30 bags, both from

However you take it, here are five benefits of treating yourself to turmeric…

1 It's a powerful anti-inflammatory 

A recent series of studies published in the American Journal of Physiology demonstrated how rapidly turmeric can have an effect on tired muscles. One by the University of South Carolina showed that curcumin, the active ingredient that gives turmeric its bright yellow colour, reduced muscle inflammation by more than 20 percent within 24 hours of an endurance ride.

2 It's a powerful antioxidant

When you exercise, your body produces free radicals – highly reactive molecules that are believed to be linked to the ageing process and the development of certain diseases. Antioxidants are nature’s shield against free radicals and the curcumin in turmeric both blocks free radicals directly and stimulates your body’s antioxidant mechanisms. 

3 It helps neutralise pain

As well as curcumin, turmeric is also a good source of salicylic acid, a compound which is found in painkillers. A recent study published by the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen found that a plate of curry contained more salicylate than a low-dose aspirin tablet – perfect for treating post-ride aches and pains, then.

4 It helps protect joints

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, various studies have shown that curcumin can help treat symptoms of diseases such as arthritis and in some cases it’s proved more effective than actual anti-inflammatory drugs.

5 It improves heart function

Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function, improving the lining of your blood vessels, thereby helping to improve heart function, prevent heart disease and regulate blood pressure.

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