Unless you’ve been living in a scientific research bubble at the bottom of the sea for the last several years, you know turmeric is important for your health. You also know that you should eat it with black pepper, which aids its absorption. But … should you?
New research is calling into question the long-accepted idea that black pepper is a necessary sidekick for the proper use of turmeric. Now the experts are posing queries such as: Is black pepper really necessary to get all that cancer-fighting goodness from turmeric? What about when you want to drink a smoothie, or some tea or a few sweet juice shots … you know, flavors that would be pretty much destroyed with a spicy kick better reserved for curry?
Let’s examine these questions, and figure out what role, exactly, pepper should play in the grand turmeric plan.
Powdered Turmeric: A Disappointment on Its Own
Many people make the mistake of hearing turmeric is great for your health and can fight cancer, then tripping happily down to the grocery store and buying the powdered stuff. Unfortunately, you can add it to your smoothies and almond milk all you like, and it’s not going to help you much without something to aid in the absorption of the active compounds.
The main compound of note in turmeric is curcumin. This is what’s responsible for the cancer-fighting, blood-sugar-regulating, wonder-food effects of turmeric. Your body, however, can’t absorb curcumin on its own; it just passes through your system. That means no matter how much money you spend and how faithfully you incorporate powdered turmeric into your meals, it still does a whole lot of Not Much if taken by itself. (1)
That’s where black pepper comes in.
Beyond the Black
Human studies demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that black pepper boosts the benefits of turmeric quite a lot. According to some research, the spike may be as much as 2,000 percent. (2)
That’s impressive, but it leads to one inevitable conclusion: You have to consume the two spices together. Or at least, within 2-3 hours after consuming pepper, and only in that order: pepper first, turmeric second. (3) You must also use black pepper only; its active compound, piperine, is what encourages turmeric absorption. The compound in cayenne, capsaicin, does not have the same effects (although it is extremely good for you).
Beyond the obvious inconvenience of either eating turmeric with pepper or within a short timespan after, there’s another problem: The pepper has to be freshly ground, or it loses its effectiveness. So spice shakers of turmeric and black pepper do little to nothing. Sigh. If you really want to get the benefits of turmeric each and every time, what should you do?
The Raw Route
This is where we get down to the numbers. According to Turmeric for Health, raw turmeric contains roughly the same amount of curcumin as the equivalent weight powdered … even though powdered doesn’t include any of the water weight. Most likely this is because there is such a higher percentage of curcumin. Also, you don’t need any pepper in raw turmeric because oil is nearly as effective an absorption aid, and raw turmeric is 6-9 percent oil. The takeaway? Raw turmeric completely obviates the need to mess with piperine altogether. Neat, right?
That’s why we always use raw turmeric so that you can count on getting that boost of curcumin goodness in every juice shot and on every juice cleanse. Unlike other turmeric providers, we neatly avoid the issues with black pepper and rely on the fresh, wholesome turmeric oil itself to boost your health. Plus, we put more turmeric by volume into every bottle than we’ve ever seen in competing products. It’s a win-win … win.
So today, do something good for your body and opt for the raw version of turmeric. Quit messing with powders and spice mixes, and just do what’s easy. Do what you know is good for you. And enjoy the benefits throughout your long life.
(1) Dempe J., et al. (2013, September). Metabolism and permeability of curcumin in cultured Caco-2 cells. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 57. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22930441
(2) Shoba G., et al. (1998, May). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Medica, 64. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120
(3) Turmeric for Health. (2016). Best time to take black pepper for max turmeric absorption?Retrieved from https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-queries/best-time-to-take-black-pepper-for-max-turmeric-absorption