Do You Need To Cook Turmeric Powder To Get Health Benefits?

Turmeric and more turmeric. What is turmeric? Is it a coloring agent or a spice or a herb or a nutraceutical?

Well, its all of these and that one miraculous plant that can protect and remedy almost any health condition.

Read – 100 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Turmeric

The time when turmeric had not received much attention as a medicinal agent, people would generally stick to eating raw turmeric, including turmeric powder in food and boiling turmeric and drinking its extract.

Now that we know about curcumin- the foremost active ingredient of turmeric and its bioavailability issue, we are looking for ways to increase its absorption.

Curcumin is blessed with a number of pharmacological properties- anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, analgesic, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, etc.

Interestingly people who used it earlier without knowing the absorption issue still reaped its benefits. Especially Turmeric Milk, 1 cup of that elixir and your cold would be gone.

So what exactly were these people doing? Did cooking turmeric actually aid in enhancing its therapeutic benefits?

Do you need to cook turmeric to get its benefits?

The recipe for Golden Paste calls for black pepper, oil, and cooking – all of these 3 enhance curcumin’s absorption. So how vital is it to cook turmeric to get the health benefits?

Researchers at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have investigated the solubility of turmeric and curcumin after exposure to heat.

In their first study in 2007 Kurien reported that curcumin’s solubility in water could be increased from 0.6 microg/ml to 7.4 microg/ml.

That is a 12 fold increase in solubility of curcumin. Similarly, they have shown a 3 fold increase in solubility of turmeric with heat.

Now, these results are phenomenal since we consider that curcumin is not soluble in water and that impedes its absorption.

Further, in the study, they examined the therapeutic effect of heat solubilized curcumin and found that it exhibited strong antioxidant activity.

The protein modification to which curcumin binds- HNE modification, when inhibited by curcumin can have therapeutic effects in various diseases. Heat solubilized curcumin inhibited this protein by 80%.

The researchers suggest that heat solubilized curcumin should be used to overcome bioavailability issues in clinical trials. They also recommend the use of heat solubilized curcumin in animal studies.

Curcumin at 37 degree Celsius (normal body temperature) degrades at a faster rate within 30 minutes. Interestingly heat treatment stabilizes curcumin and protects it from degradation.

Further, the researchers have investigated the efficacy of heat solubilised curcumin on autoimmune diseases and lab studies indeed show that curcumin inhibits autoimmune reactions in Sjogren’s syndrome and Systemic lupus erythematosus.

So one thing is clear, that exposing curcumin and turmeric to heat increases its solubility in water.


How does cooking affect turmeric’s health benefits?

Coming to cooking, a study investigating food emulsions, shows that curcumin’s bioavailability increases at 100 degree Celsius, a temperature used to prepare a cooking sauce.

Researchers have found that cooking curcumin in coconut or olive oil leads to the formation of a compound named ‘deketene curcumin’ which has better anti-cancer activity than curcumin itself.

Combining black pepper with turmeric powder increases antioxidant activity in cooking.

Roasting of curcumin leads to the formation of degradation products which are therapeutic in nature-they have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunostimulatory effect.

Taking into account all these pieces of evidence, it would be appropriate to say that cooking turmeric indeed enhances its therapeutic benefits. Though not mandatory, it would be a plus point to cook turmeric as Golden Paste or even in a regular diet before consumption.

What does this mean?

Here are a few reasons why it is better to cook turmeric:

  • Heat exposure increases solubility of curcumin in water by 12 folds.
  • Heat exposure increases solubility of turmeric in water by 3 folds.
  • Curcumin degrades within 30 mins at normal body temperature, heat exposure protects curcumin from such degradation and stabilizes it.
  • Cooking turmeric with oil at 100 degree Celsius increases its bioavailabilty.
  • Cooking turmeric at high temperatures (above 100 degree celsius) degrades curcumin to compounds which have better or equipotent medicinal property.


Clinical studies on turmeric focus on standardized powder or bioavailable formulations of curcumin which are efficient ways of delivering therapeutic doses of curcumin.

Black pepper and oil are still efficient agents to improve curcumin’s absorption in the body but if you do have an option, its best to cook turmeric before consumption.

Heat stabilizes curcumin and increases its absorption in water and cooking does not destroy turmeric and black pepper benefits. (Read Does Cooking destroy turmeric and black pepper’s benefits?)



75 thoughts on “Do You Need To Cook Turmeric Powder To Get Health Benefits?”



  2. I didn’t notice in all the comments yet the mention of Tamarind to help the absorption of Tumeric? Feedback? Also wanted to say how happy I am to have found this article and all the interesting comments with the gracious responses from the author to help us really understand how to get the best benefit and weed through all the information we come across. Thank you!

  3. I have been mixing my 1 t turmeric with /1/8 pepper and also chinese 5 spice, cinnamon and a bit of ginger powder then I just place it on my warmer on my stove stop until it is hot but not boiling. I imagine then this is about 100 degrees since it is drinkable and wondering if there is  a certain window that is optimal for letting it stay warming? Can I go too long before I drink it and lose the benefits? According to the article I should also daily take it “stir fried” for the anti cancer benefits as my method would offer the antioxidant benefits correct? Which way is best for brain benefits as we age?

  4. Some time ago I watched a video by an Indian nutritionist who stated categorically that turmeric must not be taken uncooked & must always be well cooked

  5. HI, I just bought Tumeric and am wondering if I am wasting the effectiveness by putting the powder/pepper directly into my morning smoothie. I cooked some last night and drank 1/2 a glass before bed, but wanted to also use the powder in the morning and don’t want to have to cook it.

    Thank you,

    • Hi. Its absolutely fine and safe to include turmeric powder in your smoothies; whenever possible do consider cooking with it.

  6. Thx for the info. 3 questions: long is cooking time at 100°?
    2. How much of cooked product dailytaken?
    3. Can lemon juice be added daily?

  7. This doe not really answer my question about can I eat turmeric which cooking it? What want to do is sprinkle it on sandwiches etc, is thus ok and will I still get the health benefits if its not cooked?

  8. Thank you so much for this information. I have been talking about this with others, wondering if heating was not preferable.

  9. I use fresh turmeric & ginger & mince in my Nutribullet to make my tea of a morning. Does it lose any of it’s benefits to do it this way, & also if I make a batch & keep balance refrigerated? I use a tablespoon in each pot bring to boil with fresh lemon slices & apple cider vinegar & let sit for at leasts 5 minutes. Generally add the pepper at the end & honey once it’s cooled. When should I add the pepper? I’ve read so many recipes for making the tea I’m confused as to the most beneficial way to do so.

  10. Hi – if I mix turmeric powder in cold water first then boil it and when it boils, I add the black pepper – will this gives me the same benefits

  11. Concerning the “cooking”…

    Considering stove-top anything seems like “too much work” and thus a deterrent — Especially since i am not a fan of the turmeric taste (particularly of powder form), which certainly doesn’t encourage consumption with a ‘1/2 tsp twice a day’ prescription — I usually “nuke” the water for my tea or hot water.

    Would microwaved water be considered adequate for “cooking” the turmeric to release all its benefits? Also, what process should be followed in this case, in regards to when the turmeric (powder vs. fresh piece vs. juice) is to be added, as well as the pepper and oil?

    [Quessing: “Add the turmeric and pepper before heating, microwave on high minimum 2 minutes, then prepare remainder of tea/hot chocolate drink and add the oil as the final item”, maybe?]


    • Hi. Your suggestion seems fine. Cooking here basically means heating it for awhile; this helps in increasing turmeric’s solubility. Cooking mainly applies to turmeric powder and isn’t much of a necessity in case of fresh roots or juice. You can go by the way you have suggested or you can make Golden Paste and then use a dollop of it to prepare the tea or chocolate drink.

  12. I don’t like pepper very much. I have just started taking tumeric. Sometimes in the morning I mix 1/4 teaspoon of tumeric with shredded wheat cereal, walnuts, some type of fruit, a little bit of coconut flakes and I use almond milk or almond/coconut milk. Since the tumeric is not heated and I don’t use pepper, am I getting any benefit at all from eating it this way?

    • Hi. Yes turmeric in diet still gives you benefits and the almond/coconut milk or even walnuts should provide dietary fat necessary for absorption.

  13. I’m an Indian and turmeric is present in cooked form in our dishes in every meal. Why then do I have joint pains? Because if other people are getting relief from it then I shouldn’t have got it in the first place. Please help and explain.

    • Turmeric add to a dish in Indian cuisine does not add up to an amount that could have a therapeutic effect but yes even at low doses it improves nutrition levels, fights infection and also works as anti-cancer agent. For example mot dishes call for 1 tsp of turmeric powder and that dish serves 3-4. Also the dish should contain sufficient quantity of fats or black pepper for absorption.

      Nevertheless you can opt for Turmeric Milk which can help alleviate joint pain. Or you can also take Golden Paste.
      Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds.

    • Small amounts of turmeric are shown to be incredibly beneficial, so the amounts people consume it in in India are more than adequate. Even less is shown to have the benefits. But your joint pain could be from other factors. Our bodies is an intricate system and everything works together. Maybe you’re deficient in a certain mineral or nutrient, or many. Maybe you’re eating too many animal products (though any amount of animal products are too many) which cause arthritis and other bone and joint issues among other things. Perhaps you are getting the benefits and if you didn’t consume any turmeric, your pain would be worse. You could try going without it for a while and test that. But more importantly I would think about what else in your diet you may need to adjust to help with your issues. You could have an autoimmune disease which can sometimes lead to an attack on the joints, diet can help with that. I highly recommend the book “How Not To Die” by Dr. Michael Greger.

    • Saraswati, another thing that just occurred to me is that you likely cook all your turmeric? Cooking turmeric provides incredible DNA protection but does not have the same anti-inflammatory effects that you get from non-heated turmeric. For the anti-inflammatory benefits of not only the curcumin, but also the plethora of other amazing antioxidants in turmeric, you will want to consume it unheated as well. Both have amazing benefits so it’s good to have both ways but the unheated will actually help reduce your pain. You can learn more about that here:

      You don’t need much to get the incredible benefits. And using just a small amount of black pepper with it will help you absorb the curcumin an incredible amount.

    • Saraswati, another thing that just occurred to me is that you likely cook all your turmeric? Cooking turmeric provides incredible DNA protection but does not have the same anti-inflammatory effects that you get from non-heated turmeric. For the anti-inflammatory benefits of not only the curcumin, but also the plethora of other amazing antioxidants in turmeric, you will want to consume it unheated as well. Both have amazing benefits so it’s good to have both ways but the unheated will actually help reduce your pain. You can learn more about that here in the video “spicing up DNA protection” on nutritionfacts dot org

      You don’t need much to get the incredible benefits. And using just a small amount of black pepper with it will help you absorb the curcumin an incredible amount.

          • Hi. Yes you can take Golden Paste with organic honey. Just keep a check on the total sugar you consume throughout the day.

        • Hi. You can use cayenne in addition to black pepper but you can’t replace it. Black pepper contains piperine which is necessary for absorption of turmeric. Cayenne does not have piperine. Therefore black pepper is a must.

    • Some parts of India have very high concentrations of fluoride in the water causing numerous health problems, one of which is joint pain.

  14. I wonder if I cook the tumeric root and than juice it and add black pepper do you think that is good way to take it daily till now I just juice the root and drink with lemon and honey

  15. Hi there
    I have a bowl of porridge every morning made with milk and microwave it for about 4 mins. I’d like to add a good quality organic turmeric powder but I’m not sure if microwaving it is right?
    all best

    • Hi Wilson. It is absolutely fine to add turmeric and then microwave your meal. In fact researchers are investigating the benefits of using a microwave to dry spices and to extract the active ingredients. It is fine to microwave it as long as turmeric gets cooked and integrated in the porridge.
      If you are skeptic then you could make the Golden Paste separately and a dollop of it your porridge everyday.

      • I read article and the posted comments, but am still not sure about the different consumption percentage/bio-availability … So, is boiling it in the water “not” as good as Golden Paste and/or cooking with it, i need to figure best way for daily ingestion for me, Thanx

        • Hi. So as per current research boiling in water helps increase solubility of turmeric as well as curcumin in water and helps overcome bioavailability issue as per the researcher’s conclusion. But there has not been a comparison with its bioavailability and bioavailability of curcumin with black pepper and fats.
          Cooking with turmeric is great. But for a more therapeutic effect we recommend Golden Paste.

          • Thnk Yu so much, I will make the “Golden Paste” . Could Yu clear up for me, just how/how much water & heat for “non’Golden Paste” ingestion. I don’t eat it everyday, but I can surely drink it.
            WOuld it be okay to (prepare) and mix it with my morning Water/Lemon … ?

            Thnx Agin,


          • Thanks for the great info shared in your website.
            Is there a version of the Golden Paste which donest include water and it is cooked solely in Coconut oil?
            Just looking into expanding shelf life into the paste by only using oil.
            Unless you think it is absolutely neccesary for it to cook initially in water?
            I want to prerape the best version, regardless of time spent.
            I also add some cinnamon and Cardamoom into it, it is delicious!!
            Many thanks

          • Hi. Thank you for your feedback. The Golden Paste recipe itself is the best version since it takes into account cooking turmeric to increase its solubility and then adding coconut oil and black pepper to increase the absorption. Adding cinnamon and cardamom in the end is a great in terms of taste and health benefits.

    • are Yu aware of all the negative and harmful results of microwaving anything … ? I have read quite a bit of research on the “isomerism” that occurs due to the irradiation of Microwaves — so shouldn’t we heat traditionally, even the the time spent is quite different . ?


  16. I find the capsules are expensive and unsustainable for my budget. So, I have been taking the organic turmeric root daily for the last year (I buy on line or at an Asian market- about $7-12 a lb. and keep it in the refrigerator in a lidded container until ready to use). I grade about a 1gm of the root, add fresh grounded pepper, mix half in a cup of water and the other half with coffee. The coffee is a little more bitter-but I like it; I do not use sugar. I find my recipi to be very helpful but it is good to learn about the best way to reap turmeric benefits.
    Ever since I became perimenoposal I have suffered from severed body ache. The use of turmeric on a daily basis has helped in reducing the body aches about 75%. I am grateful. My quality of life has improved. I would love to get some feedback. What do you think about using the root instead of the powder?

    • Just in general, when using the root, you know what is in there, at least more or less. With powder, you do not have any clue who made it, how and where it was processed and what additives are in there. I never use any powders, just the root from Peru, India of Thailand (the beautiful shiny ones). The powders are good for pigments and coloring textiles and such.

    • The fact that taking turmeric root has reduced your pain by 75% proves that your recipe is working for you. Fresh root contains oils which take care of absorption of turmeric and you are including black pepper as well. If you find an optimal way of including fresh turmeric in diet then yes you can use it in place of powder. You could also make your own turmeric powder.

    • I really love turmeric when i discovered that it is good for i research about this turmeric..i discovered that it is good for tooth ache,migraine and dismenohrea..from now on i started to used it..i really amazed coz the pain i felt. Take it away in that moment..turmeric powder i used to marenade in meat and fish..and put it on my soup…i recomend this turmeric to my friend..and every morning i boiled turmeric root with ginger and lemon grass..this is our substitute for coffee..and my family love in every people can read this i myself recomend that start consume turmeric everyday..

      • Hi Mardilyn. Thank you for sharing these wonderful ways of including turmeric in diet. Glad to hear that turmeric benefits your health.

  17. In researching turmeric re cancer therapy, I found information that says not to take turmeric when on chemotherapy, and just as important- do not take it when having any scans using dye, such as CTscans.

    • Turmeric in diet should not be a problem. However we will research more about this and give you a clearer report on this.

  18. I make ” Golden Paste ” eat everyday 2 teaspoon rest goes in the fridge and last several days ……
    I will take it for ever and ever,,,,its preventing and healing

    • Hi Patricia. Once opened turmeric powder lasts well for 4-5 months and should be stored in an air-tight container in a cool dry place.

  19. Based on experience some observations/suggestions:

    1. If you have no known ailment or physical illness, restrict intake to 1/2 tsp of turmeric a day. If in a day’s cooking 1/2 to 1 tsp is also used, I reckon that is ok as it gets absorbed over four to five portions.

    2. Making the golden paste to refrigerate for 4-5 days is a good practise. Boil 4 tablespoons water, add 1 tablespoon turmeric and 1/2 tsp pepper powder and bring to a boil. That would be the 100 degrees the site mentions. (Kindly reply to this and confirm or negate pls.) Cooking for 20 seconds beyond will cause the water to evaporate some more.

    3. At this stage I cool it, add the coconut oil (1 tsp) and mix and bottle it.

    4. Half a tsp of this paste in 1/2 cup or less warm to hot milk, with sugar or honey makes the golden milk. (or add to cold milk and heat the mixture.)

    I do not know about capsules. Besides that gelatine is not helping.

    Grateful if site owner goes over this and comments/advises.

  20. For 5,000 years several cultures cook curry (which contains a lot of turmeric, black pepper, and other good stuff) in oil and onion. That’s how nutritionists discovered curcumin. So they have to isolate it and put it in a pill. Just put coconut oil in a pan with a lot of onion, sprinkle Madras brand curry powder from India on the onions, put other food in there if you wixh, and serve with freshly ground pepper. QUERCETIN from onion also increases bioavailability.

  21. Certainly is confusing – so am I wasting my time taking capsules. I used to make turmeric tea each but as my nails were going orange decided to have a break. And I did read that taking turmeric for too long is not good!

    • With so many ways to use it as a “spice” added to food, why would you ever need to put it in capsules to “get it”, unless you’re planning an interstellar excursion? I would like more info on taking it too long, since I put 1/2-1 tblspn in my oatmeal each morning (along wit about 20 oter herbs and spices as well as adding it to my morning tea and ball rice/beans/veggies “gruel’ , chicken stock/soup as well as everything else I make, so I ingest probably 1-3 tblspoons per day, easily

    • Hi Marlene. Taking turmeric supplements for too long is not good. Turmeric is a spice and is taken in diet daily for life by Asians. Cooking is not a compulsion but beneficial. And yes turmeric powder as a spice is more beneficial than supplements/capsules.

  22. Oh I get so confused by all these dos and don’ts. I take quarter of a spoon of turmeric in hot water with fresh ginger and juice of half a lemon, every morning. Am I wasting my time ???

    • I think you are better making a paste first that is turmeric water pepper and ginger heat it and then use that paste in your morning lemon drink with a little oil

    • Hi Elaine. Cooking with turmeric is beneficial but not a compulsion. Combining turmeric with ginger is a good option since it takes care of the bioavailability and the duo works as anti-inflammatory agent. What you are taking would work as a great detox. However its beneficial to take turmeric with black pepper and oil since turmeric poorly dissolves in water and both these agents have been proven to increase its absorption significantly. Also 1/4 tsp a day is quite less unless you have recently started taking it.
      If you have not observed any changes in your health with the way you are taking turmeric now then its highly advisable to take Golden Paste.
      Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take other meds.


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