Liz Robins is a wellness writer and content strategist with a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She's a contributor and former contributing editor for Organic Spa Magazine, and has covered health and spa stories for many outlets, including Deepak Chopra's JIYO.
It’s no wonder that turmeric has gone from something you toss anywhere on your spice rack to a common pantry staple (and increasingly popular supplement) in recent years. Beyond flavoring Indian curries and turning your wooden spoons a golden yellow, this close relative of ginger has shown promise in protecting us against heart disease, cancer, and other serious health conditions1. Turmeric is also inexpensive, safe2, and pleasantly mild-flavored, making it an easy spice to work into your life.
Not sure how to add this superfood to your diet? We've outlined 10 simple ways to eat and drink turmeric. But first, let's talk about the benefits.
Benefits of turmeric.
Turmeric has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb in traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) but only in the last decade or so has it gained popularity in the West. Why the sudden surge in popularity? A growing body of research affirming turmeric's ability to stave off common ailments and illnesses, like joint pain and poor gut health.
One of the best-researched benefits of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties, thanks largely to an active compound called curcumin. Inflammation is the root cause of most chronic diseases and illnesses—including heart disease3, autoimmune diseases, cancer4, arthritis, colitis, and cognitive decline, among others—so limiting inflammation in the body is key to decreasing our risk of those.
What's more, turmeric is antioxidant-rich, helping to bolster the body's defenses and protect against free-radical damage that can hinder immunity, brain function, and other aspects of good health. Research has found that it helps prevent DNA damage and improves DNA repair, and it shows promise in treating depression. Turmeric is also used to alleviate joint pain, muscle soreness, hay fever, and skin conditions, to name a few.
What are the different forms of turmeric?
Ready to up your intake? To benefit, experts recommend consuming half a teaspoon to one teaspoon of turmeric powder (about 2.5 to 5 grams) per day with food. If that feels like a lot, some say you can reap benefits from smaller amounts (500 to 2,000 milligrams), too.
Aside from turmeric powder, other forms of turmeric include the whole root, extract, and tablets or capsules. If you decide on a tablet or capsule, look for one that includes black pepper. Curcumin on its own isn't absorbed very efficiently in the body, but taking it with black pepper enhances absorption dramatically5. Research also shows that consuming turmeric with a fat source (think olive oil, avocados, nut butter) can also increase absorption.
Full disclosure: If you have a health condition or if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication, consult your doctor or a medical health professional before dramatically increasing your turmeric consumption or taking supplements.
Without further ado, here are some ideas for working turmeric into your diet:
Make some turmeric tea.
A simple, soothing way to get a consistent amount of turmeric in your diet is to drink turmeric tea, a traditional ayurvedic remedy that may ward off colds and ease exercise-related muscle soreness.
To make it, follow the simple recipe below:
- Combine 8 to 12 ounces of water in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Boil over medium heat for five minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in ¼ teaspoon each of ground black pepper and ground ginger, then sip throughout the day.
- Note: You can substitute coconut, nut, or oat milk for the water to make it into a creamy golden milk latte.
Add it to egg or tofu scrambles.
Turmeric is a tasty, colorful addition to savory dishes. And although it's a key ingredient in curry powder, it's actually not spicy-hot on its own. Next time you're scrambling eggs, stir in some turmeric. It's an easy way to boost your intake without overpowering your taste buds!
Whip up some salad dressing.
Five minutes is all it takes to make a zingy, anti-inflammatory turmeric dressing to liven up green salads and other dishes. Whisk together 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons white miso paste, the juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons), ¼ cup of olive oil, and ¼ cup of tahini until well combined. Toss with salad or use to marinate tofu, fish, or chicken. It makes a great raw-veggie dip too!
Try turmeric bone broth coconut milk.
Reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of both bone broth and turmeric with this warming drink. Blend 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, 1 cup bone broth, 2 teaspoons turmeric, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of black pepper, 1 teaspoon raw honey, and ¼ teaspoon ginger powder in a blender. Heat in a saucepan over medium heat for three to five minutes, then drink it warm.
5. Season roasted vegetables with turmeric.
If you're getting tired of bland roasted veggies, turmeric is a tasty way to add a different flavor to your plate. It goes especially well with carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, and just about any root vegetables. Sprinkle it on generously, before or after cooking, along with sea salt and black pepper to enhance the body's absorption of curcumin.
Add it to rice.
This one couldn't be easier. Next time you cook rice, simply stir in some turmeric afterward and mix well before serving. Start with a small amount, taste it, and then adjust as needed to get the flavor you want.
Spice up green smoothies.
Swap your usual breakfast for a turmeric-tinged green smoothie to start your day on a nutrient-rich note. Blend a few large handfuls of leafy greens (think spinach, arugula, kale, and the like) with some healthy fat (half an avocado, a scoop of nut butter, a tablespoon of coconut oil, or a heaping spoonful of ground flaxseed), a pinch of mineral salt, your liquid of choice (water, coconut water, or nondairy milk), and add turmeric to taste.
Savor it in soups.
Turmeric has been used to treat inflammatory bowel conditions including colitis and irritable bowel syndrome6, so it's a perfect ingredient to include in a gut-soothing soup. Make your favorite soup recipe using organic chicken bone broth or vegetable broth as the base, and add turmeric a bit at a time, stirring and tasting until you get the flavor just right. Include plenty of veggies to amp up the antioxidant content. (Turmeric and pumpkin go especially well together.)
Flavor your fish.
Whatever spices you're using to season your fish, add turmeric into the mix! Shake it on before or after baking, grilling or pan-frying your favorite variety of wild-caught fish for a hassle-free health hit.
Snack on spiced nuts.
Walnuts are already a healthy brain food (the shape itself should tip you off), but they're even better when combined with turmeric. Mix a splash of olive oil in a bowl with a hearty shake of turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper, and then stir in a few handfuls of raw walnuts, coating well. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted.
As you can see, turmeric has a lot to offer in terms of potential health benefits and tasty ways to enjoy it. Try the ideas above, or create your own! Whether you're concerned about a specific condition or simply want to maintain good health, adding turmeric to your diet can benefit almost anyone (given that your doctor gives you the green light).
Liz Robins is a wellness writer and content strategist with a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She's a contributor and former contributing editor for Organic Spa Magazine, and has covered health and spa stories for outlets ranging from Caribbean Travel & Life and Spa to Deepak Chopra's JIYO and New Hope Natural Media. Her specialty is simplifying the complex and her passion is inspiring and empowering people to lead healthier lives.