Liquid Gold in a cup
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to post about Golden Milk. It’s delicious and nutritious and SO easy to make. But before I go on, I want to make it clear why I’ve been drinking it so much, what it really is and why it’s so darn good for you!
Golden Milk is an ancient Indian remedy that has been rediscovered, revived and reimagined by the modern wellness scene, and for good reason: Turmeric is the golden rockstar of this concoction. A common spice in Indian cuisine, turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well as a laundry-list of other benefits. In India, it is literally known as the “spice of life” because it has so many healing and health-boosting properties. And now I add it to basically everything.
The golden solution
When I first started researching anti-cancer nutrition, turmeric came up again and again… and again. And the more I researched turmeric, the more benefits it seemed to have: feel a cold coming on? Drink turmeric tea! Sore throat? Fever? Arthritis? Skin issues? Digestion trouble? You guessed it – make some golden milk and drink up! And back to cancer – well, yes, whip up that golden milk, and then go ahead and sprinkle turmeric on everything else you eat too, while you’re at it. Because curcumin – the active ingredient in turmeric – has been shown by cancer researchers to be really effective at reducing inflammation. It is so effective, in fact, that athletes use it to aid in recovery of muscle injuries and even broken bones.
While it is a stretch to say that curcumin can actually cure cancer as the more dramatic results of its effectiveness have only been done on mice and rates, it has been shown to prevent depression, reverse liver damage, and prevent and treat Alzheimer’s. It is undeniable that with it’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric should be considered as a key part of any anti-cancer or healing diet.
The anti-inflammatory power of turmeric
Inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases, so if you’re struggling with any kind of dis-ease in the body, adding turmeric to your diet is something worth trying. Even if you’re currently enjoying good health, golden milk and a sprinkle of turmeric on your savory meals would benefit most as modern diets are largely inflammatory.
Both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine use turmeric in the treatment of liver disease, respiratory and GI issues, joint pain, skin problems, general wound healing, and even sprained muscles. Modern research has begun to elucidate why curcumin is such a potent healer: it modulates about 700 genes in our body as well as 160 physiological pathways, it makes our cells’ membranes more orderly, and it affects signaling between inflammatory molecules, cell survival proteins, and histones.
As for its anti-cancer properties, curcumin destroys cancer cells, promotes healthy cell function and promotes anti-angiogenesis, which means it helps prevent the growth and development of additional blood vessels that enable cancer cells to grow. There is also evidence that it may suppress tumor formation. Research currently indicates that curcumin’s anti-cancer properties are universal, effectively impacting each type of cancer.
Golden milk of the gods
So back to our Golden Milk. The traditional recipe, called Haldi Doodh, is pretty straightforward: piping hot milk with a tablespoon of ground turmeric – ideally fresh ground – dissolved into it, plus a little crushed peppercorns, perhaps sweetened with honey to taste. Pepper actually increases the bioavailability, or absorbability, of curcumin by the body, as does fat as turmeric is fat-soluble.
Most modern recipes call for the use of coconut milk, not just because it tastes great and provides a nice thick creamy base, but because coconut milk has some additional benefits to boost the powers of this golden concoction. Coconut fat contains lauric acid, which in the body has powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties – perhaps this is why I didn’t get sick all winter!
Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) that is easily digested and immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. Have you heard of MCT oil, a key player in the power-packed bullet-proof coffee ingredient lineup? Same thing. Studies indicate that MCFAs promote weight loss, and may even reduce body fat and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
Coconut milk is also rich in antioxidants and nutrients including vitamins C, E, and B, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. Coconut oil has similar health properties so many recipes call for the addition of a little coconut oil, depending on the liquid base.
Golden Milk Recipe
As I mentioned before, the basic recipe is really simple: milk, turmeric, and a little pepper. For taste purposes and some added nutritional benefits, I like to add a bunch of additional spices, vanilla, and a pinch of green leaf stevia. Raw honey can be used to sweeten, and feel free to change up the mixture of spices until you find the blend that makes your taste buds tingle.
The basic recipe:
- 1 cup coconut milk, ideally full fat
- 1 tsp fresh group turmeric (may use store bought, just be aware of the source)
- crushed black pepper
The fancy additions and variations:
- Spices. I usually add few dashes of cinnamon and ginger, and a dash or two of allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves, because they’re tasty and have additional health benefits. I’ve heard of adding saffron, so go ahead and experiment if you’re feeling extra fancy and you happen to like it.
- Sweeteners. Raw honey is commonly recommended as a sweetener for golden milk. I add green leaf stevia, since it adds zero sugars and the green leaf variety contains additional health benefits. Pure monkfruit is another great zero sugar sweetener.
- Milk options. Coconut milk is ideal for the reasons listed above. Other dairy-free alternatives work. Cashew milk is another great creamy, dairy-free alternative, as is almond milk. Go for organic, no additive brands (definitely avoid carrageenan), or make your own nut milk!
- Fats. If your milk is not full-fat, you may consider adding up to a tablespoon of coconut or MCT oil (which contain the beneficial fatty acids), or ghee, which has loads of benefits and none of the drawbacks of typical butter.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ingredients and whisk together.
- Optional but recommended for best results: add it all to a blender and blend on high for about 10 seconds so the oils and spices get mixed evenly. Careful to leave the blender fill cap a little open to let the steam out – high heat can cause blenders to crack or completely break. Trust me on this one…! 😉