Turmeric has been used for ages to cure many of our ailments. From treating an upset stomach, microbial infections, or skin issues to fighting inflammation, chronic pain, and cancer. Its active compound, curcumin, is what gives Indian food its typical bright yellow color and provides a wide range of very powerful health benefits.
But unfortunately curcumin isn’t absorbed well by our body. And when it does, our liver actively tries to get rid of it. So although you may be adding turmeric to your daily diet, chances are not much of it end up in your system to do its magic.
Luckily there are a few tricks to improve the availability and absorption and get turmeric’s full powers.
1. Black Pepper
This is maybe something you’ve heard before and the most known way to increase curcumin’s bioavailability. Even the slightest pinch can increase absorption with a whopping 2,000%. So when cooking with turmeric, make sure you don’t forget to add fresh ground black pepper. (1)
2. Healthy Fats
Turmeric is fat-soluble and best absorbed in combination with fat. When turmeric is combined or eaten with a healthy fat – such as coconut butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee or avocados- more curcumin makes it past the stomach and intestines to enter the bloodstream and cells. It can directly enter the lymph system and bypass the liver by doing so. It is also best to use the fresh root, for its added natural protective oils. (2)
Click here to learn more about the healthiest cooking fats out there.
Quercetin is a plant flavonoid found in many fruits, vegetables, and green tea. It prevents an enzyme to break down and deactivate curcumin. . If the fruit or vegetable is dark red, blue, or purple, it will contain more of the flavonoid. (3)
Some studies suggest that warmth improves the solubility of curcumin. However heating it for too long will destroy curcumin as well. So if using turmeric in stir-fries or sautés, heat coconut oil on high heat, add turmeric and reduce heat afterwards. (4)
As a bonus I’ve added a green smoothie recipe that combines 3 of the above mentioned tips to get the most healing compounds out of your drink.
Turmeric Boosting Smoothie (serves 1)
Delicious green smoothie that supercharges the availability of curcumin in your body. Great to treat a wide range of health issues. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antibiotic, and cleansing properties.
- 1 cup steeped green tea
- 1 cup leafy greens of your choice (spinach, bok choy or kale are all good options)
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Raw honey, maple syrup or stevia (optional)
Blend green tea and leafy greens until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend again.
And remember, next time you’re adding turmeric to your dishes don’t forget to add a healthy fat, black pepper, and deep colored fruits and vegetables, if possible, to get to most out of your food.