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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
Turmeric is today's natural products darling. But if you don’t want to take our word for it, how about taking Google’s word for it?
In the June 2016 issue of Nutritional Outlook, we turn our attention to turmeric. By all accounts-sales data, marketing speak, and supplier feedback-interest in turmeric is growing fast. But if you don’t want to take our word for it, how about taking Google’s word for it?
The search giant recently published “Food Trends 2016: U.S.,” a report examining which food terms Google users searched for most between January 2014 and February 2016. Sitting at the top of the list of what Google deems “rising stars”? Turmeric. (I should take a moment to explain that Google defines “rising star” as a food term experiencing sudden growth, with the caveat that “these trends might not last.”) Joining turmeric on the list of rising stars are jackfruit, cauliflower rice, sourdough bread, “funfetti,” and vegan donuts.
The report notes that turmeric searches grew 56% from November 2015 to January 2016 alone. Turmeric also heads up all searches that Google classifies as “food with a function.” Turmeric is first on the list, followed by apple cider vinegar, jackfruit, Manuka honey, kefir, coconut milk, erythritol, bone broth, cauliflower rice, avocado oil, bitter melon, arrowroot powder, high-protein snacks, and nine other contenders.
Google also did a deep-dive analysis of five leading trends. Turmeric is the only herb included in the group. The other four trends Google highlights are “Traveling through Taste,” “Experimenting with Pork,” “Bite-Sized Snacks,” and “The Pasta Comeback.”
In its deep dive, Google analysts dissected how and when consumers searched for the term turmeric. The report reveals, for instance, that Monday is the top day of the week for turmeric searches; interest trails off as the week progresses. Top associated turmeric keywords-meaning terms consumers search for in combination with turmeric-have to do with forms of turmeric as well as recipes: powder, golden milk, ground, smoothie, root, drink, juice, recipe, honey, pepper, fresh, and organic. Google moreover confirms that the word turmeric is trending across the country, registering in “all major cities across the U.S. in December 2015.”
The report even looks at YouTube data, finding that the top five–visited turmeric videos are educational and account for 3.9 million views. YouTube topics searched in combination with turmeric were acne, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, blood sugar, heart health, joint pain, depression, detoxification, blood pressure, painkiller, sleep, weight loss, and more.
Is this data meaningful? Arguably, yes. As the Google team states in the report’s intro, “With every query typed into a search bar, we are given a glimpse into user considerations or intentions. By compiling top searches, we are able to render a strong representation of the United States’ population and gain insights into this population’s behavior.”
What the data show, then, is that interest in turmeric is at an all-time high. This interest is undoubtedly driven by emerging science on turmeric. HerbalGram reported in its August–October 2015 issue that as of July 2015, the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database listed almost 8000 studies on turmeric’s active constituent, curcumin; since then, nearly 1000 studies have been added to the list.
To keep up with what’s new, in our June 2016 cover story, writer Robby Gardner unpacks some of the latest studies related to turmeric and curcumin. We hope you enjoy our update on this herbal superstar.