Photo: Shutterstock / Thanthima Lim
Folks in places like India have valued turmeric for millennia, but here in the West, we’re just catching on. Made from dried plant roots, turmeric powder is bright golden-yellow with a warm, bitter taste, and is a major ingredient in many curry recipes, including these.
Why is turmeric so popular?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to help with pain, fatigue, rheumatism and breathing problems, issues that we now know are alleviated by curcumin, a main ingredient in the plant.
Today, turmeric is trending as a dietary supplement and potential preventative/treatment mode with regard to a variety of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer treatment and prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, colitis and various other inflammatory conditions.
But how much turmeric should you have every day?
Turmeric is considered safe as an ingredient in food, and even in spa treatments, but high doses and long-term use may cause gastrointestinal problems. In addition, its main ingredient, curcumin, can act as a blood thinner, which means that it is not an ideal supplement to take if you’re on prescription blood thinners or if you’re about to have surgery. No standard recommended dosage has been established as of yet, which is why the NIH recommends that you check with your own health care provider if you want to move from simply cooking with turmeric to taking turmeric or curcumin supplements.
That being said, our experts tell us that a reasonable dosage is 500 mg per day, which we’ve seen corroborated by several independent experts, including Bindiya Gandhi, MD, who recommends 400 to 600 mg of turmeric, up to three times per day, as tolerated. If you’re thinking of using turmeric root, itself, as a supplement, Dr. Gandhi recommends a cut-root dose of 1.5 to 3 mg per day. Turmeric supplements haven’t been studied in children under the age of 15, so talk to their pediatrician before starting a regimen (the key word being “supplement,” because including it as an ingredient in foods is generally considered perfectly fine).
Besides curry, here are some other great ways to use turmeric. It’s also the secret ingredient in this poached salmon with dill recipe, this recipe for French mustard, and this Moroccan spice blend that you can use on anything from scrambled eggs to leg of lamb.