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Turmeric: How to Eat, Drink and Use This Household Spice

Ever wonder why mustard is yellow? It’s seasoned with turmeric, a magical spice that’s both tasty and healthy. (Oh, and it also whitens your teeth, NBD.) Presenting the ultimate guide to eating, drinking and understanding this underrated ingredient.

What Is Turmeric?

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Pronounced TER-muh-rihk (say it with us), turmeric is a plant native to southern Asia and is a close cousin of ginger. The root can be eaten fresh, but it’s typically boiled, then baked in a hot oven and ground into powder. It’s a staple of Asian, Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisine (mmm, curry), but it also has medicinal properties due to its active ingredient, curcumin.

Health Benefits

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This is some powerful stuff: Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory agent and has been used to treat a variety of ailments in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries, including asthma, indigestion, stomach ulcers and bacterial infections. Studies have shown that this potent ingredient may also prevent colon, stomach and skin cancerrelieve arthritisprevent liver damage; and improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also been purported to treat kidney stones and relieve intestinal gas, but more studies are needed to determine its effectiveness.

How to Eat It

This golden spice adds a lemony, peppery flavor that complements eggs, cauliflower, rice and meat. There are tons of ways to cook with turmeric, but here are a few of our favorites.

tikka Vegetarian Gastronomy

Cauliflower Tikka Masala

A hearty Indian dish to try on Meatless Monday.

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rice1 My Sequinned Life

Turmeric Coconut Basmati Rice

Pair it with the aforementioned cauli tikka.

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onetraytumeric The Little Green Spoon

One-Tray Turmeric Chicken

Ooo, and barely any dishes to do.

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tumeric4 Apollo and Luna

Turmeric Vegetable Bowl

Just add cilantro, lime juice, coconut milk, rice and the veggies you have on hand.

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tumeric6 Naturally Ella

Golden Cauliflower Egg Skillet

Breakfast will never be the same again.

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How to Drink It

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Turmeric beverages are a delicious way to get all the health benefits without taking a supplement. They’re just beginning to pop up in coffee shops and restaurants in the U.S., but you can also make your own concoction at home.

latte Figs and Pigs

Turmeric Latte

Try it with almond or coconut milk.

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lemonade Exploring Healthy Foods

Turmeric Lemonade

A refreshing, healthy treat on a hot day.

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tonic Savory Lotus

Anti-Inflammatory Tonic

Looks like orange juice but with additional nutritious benefits.

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hotchcoolate Healthy Aperture

Turmeric Mocha Hot Chocolate

It sounds weird, but it just works. Try it for dessert.

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tumericmilk My Food Story

Golden Milk

Drink this the second you feel a cold coming on.

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Beauty Tricks

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Studies have shown that this powerful spice can reduce signs of aging, so it’s become a popular ingredient in holistic beauty regimens. (But watch out—it can stain your skin, so use it carefully and sparingly.)

body Juara

Antioxidant Face Mask ($28)

Use once a week to brighten skin and improve its elasticity.

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DIY Turmeric Teeth Whitener

Mix it with coconut oil and let it sit on your pearly whites for two minutes.

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bayberry Bayberry Naturals

Clarifying Body Scrub ($34)

Oh, and did we mention this golden spice is a fantastic exfoliant?

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Where to Buy It

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You can find easily find a ground version in the spice section at any grocery store, but check the label before you put it in your cart. Spice Select, Market Pantry, Gel, Clear Value, Lieber’s and Spice Supreme brands were recently recalled due to increased levels of lead. Turmeric supplements are also available over-the-counter at drugstores, vitamin shops and online. We recommend choosing an organic powder or supplement.

Health Advisories

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Talk to your doctor before using turmeric to treat any ailment or condition. Don’t use it if you are pregnant, nursing or diabetic. Unless your doctor recommends it, don’t consume more than 600 mg of turmeric powder a day.