Most people who follow the news about natural health and supplements are aware of the many health benefits that turmeric can offer. The active ingredient in turmeric, a compound called curcumin, has been shown to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and research is ongoing on what curcumin can do for serious conditions like Alzheimer’s, asthma, heart disease and cancer, just to name a few.
What fewer people know, though, is that curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body unless certain requirements are met. Read on to find out more about what to do to maximize the absorption of this important compound in order to reap its full health benefits.
Curcumin and Fat
One of the reasons that curcumin can be difficult to absorb is that it is fat-soluble, meaning that it dissolves only in the presence of fat. If turmeric is taken with a low-fat meal says, a lentil soup – it would have a hard time making it past the stomach and into the small intestines, where most nutrients are absorbed. It is therefore very important, when using turmeric, to make sure that some fat is taken with the meal to maximize its absorption and its health benefits.
If turmeric is being used in a curry, the issue of fat is not a problem, since curries contain some oil and also can frequently have other fatty ingredients like ground almonds (like in korma dishes) or coconut milk (used in many of their red or green curries dishes). However, if used in other dishes, there are a few simple ways to make sure that the turmeric is accompanied by some healthy fat.
For instance, the consumption of Golden Milk is very popular in the East. Golden Milk is basically a combination of a turmeric paste with water, milk and coconut oil. There are many variations of this basic recipe and they can be found easily on the Internet if someone wants to learn to make their own at home. The fats in the coconut oil and milk make sure that the curcumin in the turmeric is easily absorbed.
Other ways to ensure that turmeric is being consumed in the presence of healthy fats is to sprinkle some of this spice onto an avocado, which is loaded with healthy, monounsaturated fats. It can be used in smoothies along with milk, coconut milk or almond milk, all of which also contain fat. Stirring it into olive oil then tossing it with vegetables is another tasty and healthy way to make sure the turmeric is properly absorbed.
Curcumin and Black Pepper
Research has discovered that another way to help enhance the absorption of turmeric is to take it along with black pepper. Black pepper contains a substance called piperine and it is the piperine which increases how bioavailable curcumin is to the body – i.e., how easily it can be absorbed. It is believed that the presence of piperine can increase the availability of turmeric by up to 1000%.
So remember, when using turmeric in a meal to make sure that that meal contains some form of a healthy fat and black pepper, too, if possible. This will greatly increase the body’s ability to absorb the curcumin in order to reap all the health benefits this amazing compound provides.
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