Turmeric: the cheapest superfood you'll ever buy

Chai golden milk is one of the many ways you can enjoy turmeric.
Chai golden milk is one of the many ways you can enjoy turmeric. Photo: I Quit Sugar

The thing with turmeric is that it beats inflammation. Stacks of recent studies are showing how effective it is in bringing down swelling in the cells. If you have auto-immune disease of any sort: turmeric is your friend.

This relative of ginger (hence its knobbly appearance) is popping up in every hipster café worth its Himalayan rock salt. Turmeric lattes (golden milk, if you're extra hip) are pervasive on Instagram. Beauty gurus have even created DIY turmeric face masks. (I don't recommend this unless you want to look like a Simpson!)

But it's not just the bright yellow hue that makes turmeric so sensational. Well, it is... and it isn't. The colour comes from a chemical called curcumin, which is pretty unique to turmeric. This is the stuff that has scientists excited (and me staining every surface in my kitchen yellow!).

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a boon for us inflamed, overworked folks. There's evidence to show it can also calm conditions like psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Whenever I'm feeling achy or puffy, I increase the turmeric in my diet. 

Studies have also shown that it has a beneficial effect on the liver. It's a blood purifier. It also normalises your sugar levels and is very beneficial for diabetes patients.

Turmeric could be the cheapest superfood you'll ever buy (while I reckon it's worth its weight in gold, thankfully the supermarkets haven't caught on and it's still about two bucks a pop). Preliminary studies have shown that curcumin has incredible potential to fight cancer and Alzheimer's disease

But the best thing about turmeric? It's a great excuse to eat fat (not that we need another one). The body absorbs it best if you eat it with fats, so add some ghee or coconut oil to your next yellow curry. Also, studies have shown that pepper increases its bioavailability. Thankfully we all love a crack of pepper!

And... research has shown that turmeric is better absorbed when fermented (I can vouch that it's more delicious this way, too). Which sounds pretty witchy and involved, but is really as simple as filling a jar with blended turmeric root, pepper, and enough whey or brine to cover it. Nature will do the rest.

Perhaps, try this: simmer your milk of choice with a teaspoon of turmeric, a sprinkle of black pepper and a good dollop of coconut oil. Voila, homemade golden milk without the hipster café price point!


Chai Golden Milk

Serves 1

Preparation time: 5 minutes 

Cooking time: 10 minutes 


½ cup water 

1 cm fresh turmeric, grated (you can also use ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 

½ teaspoon cinnamon 

¼ teaspoon cardamom 

1 cm fresh ginger, grated (you can also use ½ teaspoon ground ginger)

¼ teaspoon vanilla powder 

½ teaspoon rice malt syrup 

1 pinch black pepper 

½ cup milk of choice 


Add all ingredients except milk to a small pot on a medium heat. 

Bring to a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes. 

Add milk and simmer for another minute, then take the pot off the heat and strain the liquid through a sieve and straight into a mug. Serve hot. 

Some delicious upgrades 

Add a pinch of chilli powder for an extra spicy kick. 

Let the mixture cool completely and blend with half a banana and some ice for a delicious smoothie. 

Add one teaspoon of raw cacao for a chocolate version. 

Recipe courtesy of I Quit Sugar.