What is turmeric? Google says it’s “a bright yellow aromatic powder obtained from the rhizome of a plant in the ginger family,” the curcuma longa plant. But I think it’s much more than just an aromatic spice. Turmeric is also known for its potent antioxidants that can help those suffering from many conditions including diabetes, gallstones, inflammation, menstrual cramps and eczema. When consumed regularly in food and in supplement form, turmeric has the ability to boost the immune system, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and prevent cancer too.
I first took an interest in turmeric when I learned about it’s laundry list of cardiovascular health benefits. As you probably know, heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America, so I want to be sure I’m doing as much as I can to keep my heart healthy.
I use turmeric in my cooking whenever possible, but I wanted to find other ways to incorporate it into my routine. Supplements are a good way to go as long as you choose a good quality and trustworthy brand, but beyond cooking and supplements, I found my favorite turmeric-containing concoction in the form of a non-dairy turmeric milk. Not only does it have the star ingredient, but it also contains a host of additional ingredients that provide many important nutrients as well.
Health Benefits of Non-Dairy Turmeric Milk
- Whole turmeric root seems to be the choice that offers the most health benefits because it contains a wide variety of essential nutrients. Curcumin is often isolated from the turmeric root in order to be taken alone, but then the other nutrients present in the root are minimized. These beneficial nutrients include manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, iron, zinc and calcium among others.
- Coconut milk is yet another way to consume this super-nutritious food. We frequently turn to coconut because its medium-chain triglycerides are an excellent source of healthy fat, and its powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties are always beneficial.
- Ginger is in the same root family as turmeric and also aids in the treatment of upset stomachs and indigestion. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory substance and boosts the absorption of other nutrients as well, in the same way that black pepper does for turmeric.
- Ceylon cinnamon (as opposed to cassia cinnamon) has extremely low levels of coumarin, a naturally occurring blood thinner which if ingested in sufficient quantities can cause the blood to become dangerously thin. Ceylon cinnamon is also anti-viral, anti-fungal, and contains manganese, dietary fiber, calcium and iron.
- Raw honey is an important ingredient because of its potent nourishing and healing properties.
As for dosage, Dr. Weil says,
Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts (available in tablets or capsules) three times per day or as directed on the product label. Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids. Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency. When shopping for supplements, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine (if you’re cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food).
I would also add turmeric powder to Dr. Weil’s list of available sources.
My Favorite DIY Recipe
- 2 cups organic coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric root or 1 teaspoon organic whole turmeric root powder
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated organic ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon organic ceylon cinnamon
- 1+ tablespoons organic raw honey (added last, after heating the other ingredients)
- Combine all ingredients except honey in a non-metal pot or sauce pan, and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat to low and lightly simmer 1-2 minutes.
- Strain if desired and stir in honey.
- Serve warm.
This combination really packs a punch to my tastebuds. I thoroughly enjoy it, and I hope you do too.