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11 Ways to Use Turmeric

Nutrition experts tell you how — and why — you’ll want to incorporate turmeric into your diet.

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Golden Child

Long known as the ingredient that gives curry its golden hue, turmeric is now capturing attention for its medicinal qualities. That’s because it contains curcumin, a substance with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s been touted as a remedy for everything from everyday digestive ills like heartburn and indigestion to serious conditions like arthritis and cancer. But does this spice really measure up to its wunderkind reputation? We asked our top nutrition experts to weigh in on turmeric’s health benefits, along with their tips on the most effective and delicious ways to use it the kitchen.

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Combine Turmeric with Fat

"Turmeric is fat-soluble," says Cynthia Lair, CHN, Professor at Bastyr University’s Nutrition and Exercise Science Department, and author of Feeding the Whole Family. "Fat is essential for 'waking up' all spices, both from a nutritional and a flavor perspective. From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, heating turmeric in ghee magnifies its healthful properties. You can make this combination and store it in a small jar in the refrigerator. Then it’s on hand whenever needed. It can be used to perk up a pot of rice, or stirred into a soup."

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Mix it with Other Spices

"Studies have shown that black pepper can significantly improve the gut’s absorption of turmeric," says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, Author of Nourish Your Namaste e-book and The Foodie Dietitian Blog. "I advise clients to combine turmeric with black pepper in whatever they're cooking. I also find that turmeric is better absorbed from food, as opposed supplements."

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Soothe Stress with Golden Milk

"Turmeric has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to help improve gas, bloating and indigestion," notes Lydon. "While the research is still out on whether or not it can soothe an upset stomach, Golden Milk, a trendy beverage similar in flavor to chai, is a delicious way to consume turmeric. From a mindfulness standpoint, drinking a warm, non-caffeinated beverage like Golden Milk can be a calming experience for many people. By engaging your senses--the warm mug, the steam rising from your cup, you may feel a sense of relaxation that could help with stomach upset caused by stress."It’s also easy to make your own Golden Milk mix at home: "Just combine dried turmeric with heated ghee to form a paste," advises Lair. "Adding black pepper to the mix increases the efficacy. I also add other spices like fresh ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and a bit of honey. Then, whenever you want a soothing drink, combine a teaspoon of the paste with a cup of warm milk or a non-dairy milk."

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