Turmeric: Neglected Golden Crop

Improved use of turmeric (Curcuma longa) in traditional foods to advance the livelihoods of local populations through better nutrition in Nigeria.

In developing countries, large population groups still suffer from malnutrition and problems of food safety due to the intake of insufficient, poorly balanced and/or microbiologically unsafe food. This research project will study the use of turmeric (Curcuma longa), which is known to be nutritionally rich and to have antimicrobial properties, as a means of addressing this situation. Turmeric is currently receiving research attention in Africa  but information is lacking on its antimicrobial properties when added to traditional foods and on the bioavailability in the body after digestion.

The aim of this study is to determine the antimicrobial properties of turmeric in traditional food applications. Specifically:
· To collect information about traditional methods of processing and utilization of turmeric
· To determine the processing influence, nutritional quality and impact of digestion on bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric-containing street vended foods
· To determine the consumer acceptability of newly developed food products with turmeric

Consumer-oriented approach will be applied to ensure that the improved foods developed are matching the needs and preferences of the target groups. The research will be conducted by means of surveys, literature review and standard laboratory analyses.
i.      Survey: Survey of awareness, local processing and consumption of turmeric at different sites in Nigeria has been conducted.
ii.     Literature review: Up to 12,000 papers until 2015 (source: ScienceDirect) have been published in connection with curcumin in the field of medicinal chemistry, food chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, biology, biochemistry, bioorganic and analytical chemistry (Zorka 2017) but publications on use of whole turmeric in food is scanty.  Hence, a critical review in this area is envisaged as one of the project outcomes.
iii.    Analysis: Many analysis has been carried out on curcumin, therefore the research will focus on the use of the whole turmeric versus extracted curcumin  on antimicrobial and nutritional quality of turmeric fortify foods using standard methods. Impact of digestion will  be studied using Stimulator of Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME).

Future research
Determination of variability in phyto-chemical composition of turmeric grown in different agro ecological zones in Nigeria


1. Zorka Stanic. 2017. Curcumin, a compound from Natural Sources, a True Scientific Challenge- A Review.  Plant Foods Hum Nutr 72:  1-12.