As an ancient Indian spice in the ginger family, turmeric delivers powerful antioxidant benefits thanks to an active compound called curcumin.
If turmeric is eaten as food, the body has limited ability to absorb curcumin into the bloodstream.
You’ll find many ways to eat turmeric, such as adding it to oatmeal, stew, grains, chutney, lentils, and vegetables. Compared to turmeric powder or raw turmeric, dietary supplements contain a more potent form of turmeric.
No matter how you say it (too-meric or ter-meric), this popular herb in the ginger family boasts plenty of antioxidant benefits.
Made from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric is an ancient Indian spice that made its way into the modern world. Many home cooks use it in the kitchen to add a burst of color and flavor to meals. But it’s also gaining in popularity on the wellness front, thanks to turmeric’s antioxidant benefits.  The active compound called curcumin that’s present in turmeric is what gives the plant its vibrant yellow color and provides antioxidant activity to help neutralize free radicals in the body. A common spice in Indian cuisine, turmeric boasts one of the highest antioxidant activities compared to other spices.
But what are the best ways to eat turmeric? Should you eat fresh turmeric root or powdered turmeric found in the spice aisle at the supermarket? Read on to learn 15 ways to eat turmeric in your food and drinks.
What Is The Best Way To Consume Turmeric?
Health experts recommend that consuming healthy, nutrient-dense foods provides the best way to getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. However, some nutrients (like Vitamin D) are only present in a few food sources (Read More: How Does Vitamin D Help the Immune System?). Other nutrients might be easily found in certain foods (like EPA and DHA omega-3s found in fatty fish), but some people might not eat those foods. And other nutrients (and ingredients) might be a bit challenging for the body to absorb and utilize.
Curcumin falls in the latter category, as it has low bioavailability (meaning that the body has limited ability to absorb it, so not much of it reaches the bloodstream) when it’s taken orally.  That’s why many people consider taking a turmeric supplement—it contains more potent curcumin because it’s extracted from the turmeric. 
Some turmeric supplements combine curcumin with piperine or bioperine (a component of black pepper) to enhance absorption.  However, you can also take a turmeric supplement with food containing a bit of healthy fat (think avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils) to aid in absorption.  Also, know that most herbal supplements are stronger than the fresh or dried herbs you use when cooking. 
Is It Okay To Eat Raw Turmeric?
Absolutely! Because turmeric is a plant in the ginger family, it also looks and tastes similar to ginger. So, just treat fresh, raw turmeric like you would with a knob of fresh ginger—just peel it, then slice, dice, or grate it. However, know that turmeric in all forms may stain anything it touches (hence it’s brilliant yellow color), so be forewarned!
15 Ways To Eat Turmeric In Food And Drinks
Whether you use turmeric powder or fresh turmeric to cook, neither one provides as much of a health benefit since, as mentioned above, it’s not well absorbed by the body when consumed as food. However, it still provides some benefits and definitely adds a healthy way to add color and flavor to your dishes without using salt.
What are some easy ways to eat turmeric? Try these ideas to incorporate turmeric into your daily eating. [3,4,5,6,7,8]
Curry sauce. Probably the most common way to use turmeric is to make a curry sauce. If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, you can find many recipe variations with the earthy, bitter taste of turmeric as a star ingredient in this bold sauce.
Soups. Spice up plain ol’ chicken soup by adding some powdered or grated turmeric to your mirepoix (the mixture of sautéed chopped veggies like onions, celery, and carrots that forms the base of your soup).
Stews. Similar to how you’d start a soup base, you can make a stew base by sizzling some aromatics like onions and garlic with some turmeric and ginger for a burst of flavor.
Smoothies. A dash of turmeric blends well with coconut water, honey, and a variety of fruit, like pineapple, blueberries, and mango.
Oatmeal. Add a pinch of powdered turmeric, along with some chopped dates, for a savory twist on your morning bowl of oatmeal.
Turmeric milk (a.k.a. Golden Milk). For this soothing drink, made with warm milk and honey, just add a pinch of dried turmeric to give it a golden glow.
Tea. You can buy packaged turmeric tea at many grocery stores, but you can also make it at home. Just steep dried or fresh turmeric in water for a delicious, golden beverage.
Marinades. Often mixed with yogurt to balance the flavor and tenderize the meat, powdered turmeric lends a brilliant hue to marinades.
Spice rubs. You can blend some complementary spices (like turmeric and ginger) as a bold, spice rub for poultry or lamb.
Exotic combos like fresh turmeric and coconut or fresh-from-the-farm blends like fresh turmeric, lemons, and peaches make tasty chutneys a delicious, spreadable treat.
Scrambled eggs. Instead of seasoning your eggs with salt and pepper, switch out the salt for turmeric.
Muffins. Muffin recipes abound with heavenly combinations such as turmeric, carrots, shredded coconut, and chia seeds.
Grains. Sprinkle in a bit of turmeric when cooking grains like quinoa or rice, adding in some cashews and raisins for an Indian-inspired twist.
Roasted veggies. Before you toss those bite-sized chunks of broccoli, carrots, or potatoes into the oven, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with turmeric.
Lentils. Add a little turmeric to the cooking water when making lentils and other legumes.
When you search for specific recipes, you’ll find that most require just a small amount of powdered turmeric, ranging from a pinch to about a tablespoon. However, because fresh turmeric is less potent than dried turmeric, you’ll need to use roughly four times as much fresh if you’re substituting it for dried. 
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family with lots of antioxidant benefits thanks to a component called curcumin. Turmeric comes in a variety of forms, including raw turmeric and powdered turmeric. With an earthy, bitter flavor, this bold-tasting herb can spice up your cooking and add vibrant color to foods. The many ways to eat turmeric range from curries, soups, and scrambled eggs to smoothies, marinades, and muffins. Although you can eat turmeric and cook with it, curcumin is not easily absorbed in the body. You can find a more potent form of this herb in turmeric supplements.
Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.
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