For years, I’ve been adding turmeric to my homemade cold remedy, a fragrant mixture of hot water, lemon, ginger, honey, and cayenne. Here in Los Angeles, you can see it everywhere as a superspice ingredient in juices and smoothies. But it wasn’t recently that I realized that most of us are doing it all wrong, and that we need to be stirring turmeric into some warm milk instead.
Meet the Superspice Turmeric
A bright yellow spice that colors mustard and curries, turmeric is a part of Ayurvedic medicine and has now been studied extensively in the West for its anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties. Prevention magazine reports that it might be a preventative against Alzheimer’s and other studies suggest that it can reduce cholesterol, improve digestion, and stimulate the immune system. In short, it’s an amazing spice.
I’m a health and food editor, so I have skimmed and read every fact sheet and press release about the amazing health benefits of turmeric. But despite hundreds of headlines and articles about turmeric and its active agent curcumin, I hadn’t been reading the fine print. I hadn’t seen enough real-world ways to add turmeric to my diet besides the admittedly tasty route of curries, dal, and mustard.
Hows and Whys: Turmeric Milk, Not Turmeric Tea
It was a Tibetan friend who actually brought turmeric milk, or ‘golden milk’, to my attention. As a Tibetan-in-exile, she was raised in India, and she shook her head when she saw me drinking my cold-fighting concoction one day. She commented that I should be putting turmeric in my milk, not my tea. When I asked why, she didn’t elaborate beyond saying that they had been doing it that way in South Asia for centuries.
Just a little research into the issue yielded big results. Just like with many other supplements, popping a curcumin pill or stirring some turmeric into your tea is not enough. The problem with turmeric, it turns out, is that it has very low bio-availability when its eaten by itself. In normalspeak, that means your body has a hard time absorbing it and all its wonderful health benefits.
But there are two things in your kitchen that will help your body to absorb turmeric. One is fat and the other is black pepper. That is the reason that turmeric is best stirred into warm milk and not dissolved into watery tea. It’s also the reason that experts think people in India have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world – curries are made with both fat (cooking oil) and black pepper.
How to Make Turmeric Milk, or Golden Milk, a Delicious Cold Remedy
1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice, hemp, soy are all fine as long as they have some fat)
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp raw wild honey
½ tsp Cinnamon
black pepper, a pinch
1. Heat up your milk in the microwave or on the stove.
2. Add turmeric and whisk to combine.
3. Stir in honey and cinnamon and mix well.
4. Add a pinch of black pepper and stir.
Sit back and enjoy your virus-fighting, anti-inflammatory, relaxing, and fragrant beverage.