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Mug of golden milk with spices on table next to it

Sip or Skip? Golden Milk

Golden milk, also called a turmeric latte, is a warm, earthy, comfort beverage popping up in juice bars and cafés everywhere. Maybe you’re in line ordering one now! And the starring ingredient is championed among the health-conscious as a natural anti-inflammatory with near-medicinal properties. Golden milk is even easy to make at home (we included a quick ingredient list below). Could it be true that a drink this delicious is also good for you? We take a closer look at golden milk to find out if you should sip it or skip it.

What are the ingredients of golden milk?

Golden milk has its origins in an Ayurvedic drink called haldi ka doodh. You’ll find dozens of recipes online, but here are the base ingredients:

  • Milk: This can be cow’s milk or any variety of nut or coconut milks.
  • Turmeric: Some people use fresh turmeric; others use powdered. Some recipes have you create a turmeric paste that you can store in the fridge for several days of lattes, others have you throw everything in a blender and heat it up in the moment. It’s your preference.
  • Fat or oil: This can be coconut oil or ghee. We’ll explain why it’s included later.
  • Black pepper: I know, right? Seems weird, but there’s a good reason a pinch of this gets thrown in, too.
  • Sweetener: Honey, maple syrup, natural sugars, whatever soothes your sweet tooth.
  • Other spices: Turmeric by itself will not be winning a lot of flavor awards, so people usually dress up their drinks with cinnamon, ginger, five spice, and even a dash of vanilla.

Why is turmeric so important?

Turmeric is a staple of South Asian cuisine. It’s a common ingredient in curry blends, and gives mustard its yellow color. (Actually, fresh turmeric it can give almost anything it touches a yellow color, so be careful.)

Turmeric has also been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. It contains curcumin, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Many diseases, like cancer, are exacerbated by inflammation. Proponents of turmeric often call it a “powerful” or “potent” anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that can alleviate inflammation to varying degrees, along with a host of other health benefits.

Does turmeric really offer all the health benefits I read about?

Currently, there is no body of research that demonstrates that turmeric or curcumin has medicinal value, so any health claims you’re finding are more than likely anecdotal. Chemically, curcumin has been shown to reduce proteins related to inflammation in a laboratory setting, but the challenge with curcumin is that it’s poorly absorbed by our bodies.

That’s where the fat and pepper in golden milk come in: both fats and the chemicals in pepper can aid in the absorption of curcumin. As is the case with many foods, their healthy benefits are best realized when foods are eaten together. The verdict certainly isn’t in on turmeric yet, and it’s important to remember that viewing the impact of individual chemicals in a lab setting doesn’t automatically translate to their effect or lack of effect in our diet.

Should I sip or skip golden milk?

More than anything, this recommendation comes down to personal taste. A cup of warm golden milk made with healthy ingredients can be a creamy, soothing addition to your diet. If you find it to be a sweet and savory treat, by all means — sip it! If you already enjoy chai tea, you’re in the ballpark.

But If you’re forcing yourself to finish a mug in the hopes that the turmeric is an ancient but effective wonder drug, it might be better to schedule a visit with your doctor.

Need a doc? Find one here. 


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