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.
Turmeric: How to Eat, Drink and Use This Household Spice
What Is Turmeric?
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.
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 cancer; relieve arthritis; prevent 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.
How To Drink It
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.
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.)
DIY Turmeric Teeth Whitener
Mix it with coconut oil and let it sit on your pearly whites for two minutes.
Where To Buy It
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.
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.