Tasty Turmeric Recipes + Anti-inflammatory Curcumin
May 16, 2023
We have all heard of the health claims of the primary active ingredient in Turmeric, curcumin, which have been scientifically backed up.
However, a continuing concern is that curcumin has limited bioavailability, that is the ability in which a nutrient can be absorbed and used by the body. The question then is how can we help our bodies to optimise the absorption of curcumin and maximise the benefits of this golden spice?
Here are four proven ways to achieve this:
1. Mix with black pepper
The liver makes certain substances water soluble so they can more easily pass through our systems. But when we add pepper, high in a compound called piperine, the absorption of the curcumin is slowed down, thanks to the drug inhibiting components of piperine. In fact, eating turmeric with black pepper increases absorption by up to 2000%! See the turmeric paste recipe below.
2. Mix with healthy fats
Turmeric is naturally fat soluble – meaning it dissolves in fats. Without the fats binding it, the turmeric struggles to make it through the liver and stomach without being absorbed prematurely, and into the small intestines where it can be transferred through to the blood. So, by eating the turmeric with good fats, like avo or coconut oil (or in delicious curries), you’re more likely to absorb more of it into your bloodstream. See the Golden Late recipe below.
3. Add a little heat
Many spices are transformed by heat. Their compounds can become altered or activated by this process, and it can be the key to releasing their best effect. Research has found that exposing turmeric to heat can increase its solubility in water. Short cooking times on low to medium heat (under 15 minutes) do not destroy turmeric, instead increasing the bioavailability of curcumin. So heating turmeric in a turmeric and ginger tea (recipe below) or adding it to your cooking, such as in curry or scrambled eggs, will maximise its absorption by the body.
4. Use it whole
Turmeric root contains over 100 compounds which have been found to have potent medicinal properties. Traditional medicine has always used the whole turmeric root and research is suggesting that the various compounds work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. Many practitioners recommend using the whole turmeric root for cooking as well as supplementation for health purposes. So another way to boost your absorption of curcumin is to eat turmeric in its natural form, the way Mother Nature intended.
- Fresh Turmeric
- Fresh Ginger
- Honey (optional)
Chop desired amount of ginger and turmeric into thin rounds (no need to peel first, just give it a good wash). Combine the spices and water in a saucepan (use about 1 cup of water to each 5cm piece of ginger/turmeric). Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then strain. Add honey to taste if desired.
- ½ cup grated turmeric
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 cup water
Place oil over low-medium heat and slowly melt adding all other ingredients and mixing through. Once the oil fully melts and everything is fully mixed, transfer it to a medium-sized airtight jar and keep in the fridge. Healing turmeric paste can be used for smoothies, curries, teas and golden milk.
Gold milk is a traditional Ayurvedic drink made with turmeric root (or ground turmeric), milk (originally made with cow’s milk, but can also be made with plant-based and dairy-free milk like almond and coconut), black pepper, and oil.
However, in most recipes, it is also mixed in with other good-for-you ingredients like ginger root (or ground ginger). Though it is totally optional, it can be sweetened with unrefined sugars like honey and maple syrup.
Research shows that turmeric has many components that are good for our health, but the most well researched and known active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Its usage goes back to the ancient Ayurvedic practice and has been known to promote the holistic health of the body with its antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-cariogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. (source)
Consuming food and drinks made with turmeric, such as this Turmeric Golden Milk, is known to:
- Help minimize joint pain and reduce inflammation
- Fight off various infections and boost immunity due to its antibacterial properties
- Help with a healthy glowing skin
- Delay diabetes as curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help moderate insulin levels. It has also been a way to help boost the effect of medications that treat diabetes.
- Protect brain and improve memory functions in Alzheimer patients. The following comes from this site: “Studies show that curcumin may increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a compound that helps your brain form new connections and promotes the growth of brain cells.”
- Tame heartburn and indigestion issues
I use the following ratios for 2 Servings of Fresh Turmeric Golden Milk Recipe:
- 2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
- 2 inches of sliced fresh turmeric root
- 1 inch sliced fresh ginger root
- A dash of cinnamon
- A tablespoon of coconut oil (or ghee)
- A pinch of black pepper
- A tablespoon of maple syrup or honey (optional)
To make golden milk with fresh turmeric root, mix unsweetened milk of choice with fresh turmeric root, fresh ginger root, a stick of cinnamon, a pinch of black pepper and a bit of coconut oil in saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, over medium heat just until it starts simmering. Strain into your favourite mug, sweeten if desired, and enjoy!
To make golden milk using turmeric paste, simply place a teaspoon of turmeric paste into a mug, pour some hot milk over it, if you like things on the sweeter side, add a dash of honey. Give it a mix and your golden tea is ready to enjoy.