Turmeric is one of those herbs that has recently gained popularity over the years. Besides being known for its use in the kitchen, many may also be wondering how to take turmeric for its health benefits.
The scientific name for turmeric is Curcuma longa. It belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, and is native to South Asia, majorly India.
Even though you can find it almost everywhere, people still wonder if it’s really worth the hype to invest in consuming this herb. The good thing is, that there is a lot of evidence-based information about turmeric and its healthy properties.
So, let’s dive in to discover more about how to take turmeric to reap its health benefits.
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How to Take Turmeric: Main Health Benefits
Turmeric has been used since ancient ages for cooking, especially in Indian cuisines. Its unique spicy flavor entices anyone.
Apart from that, this spice has a component called curcumin, which is responsible for many of its beneficial health properties. It also has some nutritional value, mostly minerals like potassium, iron, antioxidants, and fiber.
The main property of turmeric is to fight inflammation in the body. It is widely known as a powerful anti-inflammatory food. Because of this, people have found some health benefits in treating chronic diseases like Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and even some types of cancer.
Some studies even show the benefits of this root in treating Alzheimer’s. Additionally, experts found antioxidants in this herb to help with skin problems and depression.
Now, based on these facts, should you consume turmeric regularly? Let’s find out.
How Should I Eat or Drink It?
If you’ve been asking yourself whether turmeric is worth including in your diet, first let me start with a disclosure:
Your health is based on the quality of the foods you eat and your lifestyle choices. That being said, you should bear in mind that there is no magical pill, exclusive food, or supplement that will change your body.
You have to make solid food choices and follow a balanced lifestyle.
Even when it’s true that some foods have health benefits, relying solely on one food as a quick fix to your poor health won’t do it. So, always bear in mind that good health is based on 80% good nutrition and 20% exercise.
Now, to answer your question about whether turmeric is a yes or no to your diet, I would say if you can add it, why not? This food has some powerful benefits for your metabolism and helps to reduce inflammation, which is the main cause of body fat problems, obesity, and chronic diseases.
There are many ways in which you can consume turmeric. You can include this food as a spice to your dishes. You can also prepare teas and drinks with the powder or blend it into smoothies.
Turmeric may have a strong taste to some people, so if you’re sensitive, you may choose the form of tablets or supplement blends. I usually use it for cooking and even add it to my favorite morning teas.
What’s the Best Time to Take It?
There is no scientific evidence that indicates consuming turmeric at a certain time of the day may have better effects on the body. Research mainly focused on how much is safe, how to eat/drink it, and what benefits people can get.
Overall, turmeric is safe for most individuals. But as always, the best advice is to check with your doctor or primary care provider about changes in your diet. Especially if you take medications or suffer from chronic conditions, self-medicating or doing changes on your own is never a good idea.
Talk to a specialist first before including supplements. Unless turmeric is combined with other types of substances, it is generally safe to take as a spice in food or with meals.
Some studies suggest that supplements can also interact with blood thinners and diabetes medications. If you have a chronic disease, just remember that turmeric is not a substitute for medicine. As long as you check first about a supplement, you should be fine.
Are There Any Side Effects of Taking Too Much?
In general, no evidence reports serious side effects of taking turmeric. This is especially true if you consume it daily in your food. Because curcumin is usually tolerated well by our bodies, it is safe to consume even in the form of supplements.
Turmeric is usually safe in products that provide up to 8 grams per day when used short term. This herb doesn’t cause serious side effects unless you are sensitive to its flavor and smell.
Some people report feeling mild symptoms such as upset stomach, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. However, these seem to be more associated with the person’s food sensitivity.
How Much Should I Take in a Day?
This is a major concern most people have when including a new herb in their diet, such as turmeric. Registered dietitian Nicole Hopsecger, RD, says that it is safe to take up to 8 grams per day. However, she also mentions that it is better to be “somewhere on the lighter side: 500 to 1000 milligrams a day for the general population.”
Although most doctors recommend about 500 milligrams twice daily with food, the right dose depends on your overall health. More isn’t always the best recommendation, so again, it’s best to talk to your doctor.
Research indicates that turmeric doses of 500 to 2,000 mg per day may be effective. However, high doses are not recommended long-term. For instance, the average Indian diet provides around 2,000 to 2,500 mg of turmeric (60 to 100 mg of curcumin) per day.
The same amount in extract form may pack up to 1,900 to 2,375 mg of curcumin. That means that there is only 3% curcumin in spices while there is 95% in commercial extracts. However, you can still get the health benefits from it in spices and as food.
What Should I Look for in a Turmeric Supplement?
More than what’s the best supplement out there, you should be concerned about how to take turmeric. And the reason I say this is because there are countless products on the market. The best advice at the moment would be to check labels.
Based on the recommended dosage above, read the nutrition labels to ensure that these supplements have normal amounts of curcumin. You also want to make sure of possible nutrient combinations on the label since most supplements have multiple ingredients.
If you are using turmeric as a food, you can find varieties of dishes and recipes that include it as a spice. In terms of powder, I usually prepare a cup of tea in the morning with one to two teaspoons of turmeric. You can also blend the powder into smoothies, soups, scrambled eggs, to season meats, etc.
Going back to the supplements, extracts are the most potent form of turmeric. Also, extracts are less likely to be contaminated with other substances such as heavy metals. Some experts even recommend consuming turmeric with black pepper since it seems to increase its absorption.
If you are going to use supplements, make sure they are coming from a reputable brand. Choose supplements that have been tested by a third party, such as NSF International, Informed Choice, or the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).
Turmeric has some powerful properties that can be beneficial for your health. Although you should not rely on turmeric as medicine or a solution to your health problems, you can still include it in your daily diet.
How to take turmeric is based on your dietary habits and recommendations by your doctor. You can easily add it to your recipes and foods, as well as consume it as supplements.
So, how are you going to take this food to get all its health benefits?
Featured photo credit: Chinh Le Duc via unsplash.com