Turmeric grows in the tropics of Southern Asia — mainly in India, where it’s the star ingredient in curry. A relative of ginger, it has a sharp, fragrant taste. Turmeric’s root is dried into the familiar yellow-orange powder that is used in cooking and medicine.
While it delivers several antioxidant compounds, one in particular, curcumin, is thought to be particularly useful for the prevention of chronic diseases. Here's how to use turmeric in your meal plan and start reaping the health benefits.
The Evidence Behind Using Turmeric for Health
Though most of the research on turmeric has been conducted on animals and in test tubes, scientists feel confident that the yellow powder is the real deal. Curcumin has strong antioxidant properties, taking out damaging free radicals and halting or even reversing some of the damage they cause.
Curcumin also lowers the levels of two inflammation-causing enzymes and stops platelets from clumping into blood clots. Early evidence links turmeric to treating indigestion, ulcerative colitis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, stomach ulcers, neurodegenerative conditions (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), and even cancer.
“I use it as an herbal anti-inflammatory,” Darcy McConnell, M.D., a functional medicine physician in New York, says. “It has efficacy in patients with inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, inflamed skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.”
How to Use Turmeric
There’s no easier way to use turmeric than to begin cooking with it. It's perfect in curry, but it also works with eggs, vegetables, or even smoothies. For a bigger impact, pair it with crushed black pepper.
“Turmeric works best when formulated in conjunction with pepper, as this makes it absorb better into the system,” McConnell says.
For supplements, research has most often focused on dosages between 1 and 3 grams per day. Some turmeric pills also contain bromelain, another powerful inflammation-fighter that helps with absorption.
How to Use Turmeric for Breakfast
Start your day with a bang. This smoothie has just the right amount of spice, sweetness, and wholesome ingredients.
- 1 ripe pear, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 cup milk of your choice
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup ice cubes
How to Use Turmeric for Lunch
This roasted cauliflower recipe is one of my favorites. But it might smell up your office, so if you're eating it for lunch maybe take it outside.
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets or 1/2” thick steaks
- 1 medium onion (Vidalia onions offer a sweeter flavor), roughly chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to taste
How to Use Turmeric for Dinner
This is a hearty comfort food with the perfect level of spice. With just a pinch of turmeric, it still packs the antioxidant-rich punch.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef, browned
- 6 slices turkey bacon, chopped (Or chop up a few stick of Chomps Original Turkey sticks)
- A can of tomato paste (8oz)
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- 1 (15.5oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed