Hot Right Now: Turmeric

Make this wonder spice a staple of your diet and your grooming regimen.

It’s been used as a magical cure-all in Asian cultures for millennia; now it’s showing up in the chicest juice bars in New York and L.A. Turmeric — the vibrant yellow spice that’s a key ingredient in curry — is having a moment. Why all the fuss?

“Numerous studies on the health benefits of turmeric have found that the spice has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Vandana Sheth, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Research shows that turmeric may help stave off Alzheimer’s and heart disease, and a recent study from Oregon State University found that the substance helps increase CAMP, a protein that helps your body fight infection. The spice also could help with joint pain: In a paper in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, two grams of curcumin (the main chemical in turmeric) daily was as effective as 800mg of ibuprofen for improving severe knee pain. A review from earlier this year shows that turmeric may help keep your skin healthy—and sure enough, it’s now starting to turn up in cosmetics.

“As a spice, it helps slow oxidation and spoilage,” explains Kenneth Beer, M.D., a derm in West Palm Beach and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Miami. “As a skin care product, it largely does the same thing.”

Here, five interesting ways to get on this healthy-spice bandwagon.