Last year, while I was juggling between choices at a Starbucks in London, I sheepishly settled for a turmeric latte. The short latte was approximately 3 £, didn’t taste great and I was thankful my mom was nowhere around, beating her chest and saying, “ You paid 300 rupees for haldi doodh AND you wasted it ??” ( yes , we convert even lattes into Indian money)
While the Golden Latte is probably the most googled recipe in recent years, in India we have been drinking this concoction since centuries – strangely it never looked golden to us , just yellow milk you gulped with a sad face to get rid of phlegmy situations . The turmeric which stains our fingertips, ruins our French manicures and clothes like nothing else can.
This golden elixir has undergone transformations over the years, you can make the vegan version with coconut or nut milk and add flavour enhancers like vanilla and cinnamon to spruce it up, and hey there is even a cocktail !! Now you hear me, yes – Von Huboldt’s Turmeric Cordial is used to make the most fascinating cocktail with coconut milk, liquor, turmeric, cinnamon, rum and honey. Now thats a nightcap drink nobody would pull a face at.
However the big question here is, are you using turmeric or curcumin?
Well , isn’t it the same thing? Not really. Even though the two words are used synonymously , Curcumin is the naturally occurring chemical compound that is found naturally in turmeric.
A normal turmeric root may contain upto 2-5 % of curcumin , so if you are using normal turmeric powder to season food, you may not be able to get the beneficial amount of curcumin needed. If you are consuming turmeric for health reasons, it is definitely better to switch to a curcumin extract. However for food preparation it is recommended to continue using the normal ground organic turmeric powder.
How much of curcumin is suggested as a daily dosage ?
You cannot overdose on curcumin , it is safe to consume upto 12 gms a day, if you are taking it in a capsule form upto 2000mg should be perfectly fine, but the problem with curcumin is its absorption. It metabolises rapidly once it enters the system and eliminates as quickly too, leaving very little time for it to be absorbed for its nutritional benefits.
Which is the best way to consume curcumin to make sure it absorbs well?
1. Curcumin is fat soluble, so it is best combined with fats/oils like coconut , ghee, olive oil etc. Using it as a seasoning works best since it is the easiest way to absorb the fat and curcumin at one go.
2. Black pepper boosts the bio availability of curcumin because of a compound in black pepper known as piperine, this prevents the turmeric compounds from breaking down immediately and helps it to stay in the body longer.
What are the benefits of taking a curcumin supplement?
1. Alleviates Inflammation
2. Promotes Skin Health
3. Regulates Blood Sugar
4. May Have Anti-Cancer Properties
5. May Improve Mental Health
6. Helps Prevent Blood Clots
7. Relieves Joint Pain
8. Balances Cholesterol
9. Enhances Detoxification
10. Boosts Brain Function
When should curcumin or turmeric be avoided?
While adding reasonable amounts of turmeric as seasoning in food is perfectly fine, taking a separate curcumin supplement is best avoided in the following situations.
1. Turmeric has mild blood thinning effects, so avoid it atleast two weeks before a surgical procedure.
2. If you have diabetes, or prone to low blood sugar levels . Turmeric can cause blood sugar levels to drop further.
3. If you have a gall bladder issue, gall stones or bile duct obstruction, medical experts suggest you avoid it till the problem is rectified.
4. This supplement should be avoided during pregnancy as turmeric may over stimulate the uterus and promote a menstrual period. Also not recommended during breastfeeding.
5. Curcumin should be used with caution during peak summer months, since it is a “hot” spice and can further heat up your system.
6. Curcumin can interfere with the efficacy of certain chemotherapy drugs, so if you are undergoing treatment for cancer, take it under supervision.
Should I supplement or just consume turmeric in its natural form through food?
It totally depends on your situation. A high dose of curcumin is specially beneficial if you are prone to seasonal allergies, low immunity while travelling, osteo-arthritis and digestive issues.
There are also those who believe that they are getting sufficient amount of turmeric through food, which would definitely be the best way to consume it. Just ensure that you add a pinch of pepper and some kind of fat to the preparation.
There are plenty of brands available offering curcumin extract in capsule form, a tried and tested one is this Organic India Turmeric Formula. Buy it here.
What is wild turmeric? Is it the same as turmeric ?
If you come across wild turmeric or otherwise known as musk turmeric powder, you will find it definitely more aromatic. This particular form of turmeric has anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. It naturally contains a volatile oil in it, and makes it useless to cook food since it tastes bitter.
This form of turmeric powder is excellent for skin conditions, makes your skin glow and removes blemishes.
It’s also knows as Kasturi Manjal in India. This is the form found in skin care products.
Can I take turmeric on empty stomach ?
It is perfectly safe to take turmeric on empty stomach unless you suffer from acidity issues or gall stones. You can also take a spoonful of turmeric paste made from fresh roots. If you have the habit of taking hot water with lime on an empty stomach , add a spoon of Sprig Curcumin Honey to your drink. It tastes delicious and contains bioactive curcumin in it, add a dash of pepper to increase efficacy.
Ps. You can also slather it over your face or add it to a face pack ! Buy it here
How can I use fresh turmeric roots if it is available ?
1. Peel and grate a bit into your smoothie, curries, soups or anything you may want to add it to.
2. Wash, peel and puree it into a smooth paste with minimal water, a few peppercorns and a few tbs of virgin coconut oil. Store this paste in an air tight container, refrigerate and use within a week. You can add a spoon of this to a glass of warm water and have it on an empty stomach every morning.
3. If you want to store it, put it into a ziplock and it should stay for a few weeks. Or you can make the paste and freeze it too, as ice cubes, just take out one cube a day.
What is a golden latte and how do I make it?
A golden latte or golden milk or turmeric latte is one of the most delicious drinks that incorporates all things good about curcumin. It is soothing , healing and warms the very cockles of your heart.
You can make a creamy vegan version of it, using this tried and tested fabulous recipe by Minimalist Baker, it is one of her most popular recipes and it turns out amazing every time ! Read it here
Or if you just want to try out a normal golden milk recipe, read here
You can alternatively buy golden milk ready mix powder versions in vegan and dairy form from one of my favourite brands Urban Platter – here
Note: All recommendations over here on products are based on my personal experience, it doesn’t mean that other brands don’t exist nor am I endorsing these. Before taking any supplements, please consult your general physician.