Turmeric's active ingredient - curcumin - is full of potent biochemical compounds called polyphenols, as well as vitamins and minerals. Within curcumin, there are metabolites (or "actives") that impart many of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits associated with turmeric. In recent scientific literature, turmeric has been found to contain Turmeric also contains resveratrol, one of the most well-known antioxidants for its many health benefits, including the prevention of neurodegenerative conditions associated with aging and Alzheimer's disease. (8-13)
Generally speaking, free radicals are reactive molecules that contain oxygen atoms with unpaired electrons. Having an unpaired electron makes them unstable. An oxygen atom with an unpaired electron can also be a free radical. Free radicals are naturally produced as byproducts of many biological processes in the body.
But free radicals can be dangerous because they steal electrons from other atoms in the body in order to stabilize themselves. This process is called oxidation. So when a substance is oxidized, it has an electron stolen from it. Oxidation by free radicals transforms stable atoms into new free radicals — damaging cells and possibly causing disease. (i.15-16)
However, we also make natural antioxidants to keep free radicals in check. Antioxidants can give up an electron to stabilize free radicals — without turning into free radicals themselves. (i.15-16)
Turmeric's primary bioactive constituents are believed to be the antioxidant pigments that give turmeric rhizomes their color. Called curcuminoids, the three main pigments are curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethodycurcumin. Scientists have discovered many potentially valuable applications of these fat-soluble compounds in modern medicine, skin products, and insect control. In fact, curcumin is about 10 times more powerful as an antioxidant than vitamin E and about twice as potent as resveratrol. Animal studies show it is strong enough to counteract or prevent damage even from toxic metals. (i.8-16)