Turmeric is an ancient plant with serious staying power. The golden root, a cousin of ginger, has been a staple in Ayurvedic traditions for thousands of years. Nowadays, it’s still beloved in kitchens around the world for its earthy taste, vibrant color, and downright impressive health benefits. Research continues to find that it’s a multi-hyphenate functional food and root vegetable extract with the ability to support joint mobility, cardiovascular health, digestive regularity, and even more.*
Ever versatile, turmeric can be consumed as a root, a spice, or a concentrated supplement (i.e., a root extract), and it pairs as well with breakfast as it does dinner. This begs the question—is there a best time of day to enjoy it to reap the most of its benefits? We asked around to see what health and nutrition experts had to say.
Is there a best time of day to consume turmeric?
Before we talk timing, it’s helpful to contextualize what exactly turmeric does to support the body.
As nutritional psychiatrist and bestselling author Uma Naidoo, M.D. tells mindbodygreen, curcumin, one of the main phytonutrient active ingredients in turmeric, is first and foremost a powerful antioxidant. “Antioxidants are very powerful substances that fend off oxidative stress by taking care of the free radicals that form in our body… If free radicals are left to their own devices, they are problematic,”* Naidoo explains.
The curcumin in turmeric can also help modulate pro-inflammatory pathways.* And by helping nurture a healthy inflammatory response, turmeric helps pretty much every part of the body—from the gut and joints to the brain—do its job more effectively.* “When we think about the way that turmeric helps mood or longevity, the underlying mechanisms are antioxidant and inflammatory pathways,”* Naidoo adds.
Beyond curcumin, full-spectrum turmeric is unique because it also delivers other important bioactives (full array of curcuminoids, essential oils, fiber, etc.) to facilitate optimal absorption and further ease oxidative stress and promote healthy inflammatory status.* All in all, incorporating a high-quality turmeric source into your routine can lead to noticeable differences in mood, joint and muscle comfort, immunity, and gut health over time.*
But don’t expect to see these changes after your first golden milk. Naidoo notes that, depending on the person, it will take a few weeks of regular turmeric consumption before these effects really start to show up. This means that to get the most benefit from the antioxidant-rich powerhouse, you’ll want to do your best to consume it daily.
“I do feel that with anything—whether it’s a food, nutrient, or an herbal supplement—consistency is always key,” Naidoo says. So those looking to up their turmeric intake may find it helpful to start doing so at the same time of day. What time that is, however, doesn’t matter as much.
Naidoo and Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., CDN, a registered dietitian and author of the upcoming book Eating from Our Roots agree that the best time of day to consume turmeric—either as a food or supplement—is whenever you remember to do so!
If you’re cooking with it, Naidoo suggests thinking about which meals or beverages you turn to consistently on a daily basis. Do you always eat a salad at lunch? Maybe you could incorporate the spice (and its botanical buddy, black pepper) into your salad dressing. Love to have a hot beverage every morning? Consider making it a warming golden milk. Always have a protein with dinner? Keep Feller’s turmeric chicken recipe in your rotation.
When consuming a turmeric supplement, timing can also be variable. Consuming the supplement with or after a meal will usually be easier on the stomach—but it really depends on the person and the product. Looking for a supplement that is designed for optimal bioavailability (like mbg’s new turmeric potency+) will help ensure it gets effectively absorbed and utilized by the body when you do take it.*
With turmeric, as with anything, Feller stresses the need to find an individualized routine that works for you.
Lesson learned: There’s really never a wrong time to take turmeric as a food or supplement, as it will always lend a boost of antioxidants that the body needs to thrive. However, consuming turmeric on a daily basis will help you reap the total suite of benefits this plant has to offer, and it will be easier to do when you’re consistent on timing. Whether you sprinkle the golden spice on dinner or consume it in your morning supplement routine (or leverage both nutrition strategies!), any time of day is a good time of day for this functional herb.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you