There’s a reason we combine turmeric and black pepper in one of our cream cheese-style dips: the powerful anti-inflammatory power of turmeric is dramatically boosted when consumed with black pepper. Curious why? Here, we’ll break it down for you.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric (also known as Indian saffron) is the spice that gives curry its vibrant yellow colour. Part of the ginger family, the roots of the plant are ground to a powder to be used in cooking. It is mildly aromatic, with scents of orange and ginger and has a pungent, bitter flavour. Turmeric has been one of the most widely used spices for thousands of years and is a staple in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. It’s been used in the traditional Indian practice of Ayurvedic medicine as well as ancient Chinese medicine because of its numerous health benefits. It fights against chronic inflammation, it’s a powerful antioxidant, it improves brain function, may lower the risk of heart disease and may even help to reduce the risks of cancer and Alzheimer’s. How does turmeric do all that? Because of the active ingredient called curcumin.

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is a bright yellow organic compound found in some plants. It’s both a powerful antioxidant (meaning that it combats oxidative damage done by free radicals), and it fights chronic inflammation. Healthline reports that some studies have shown it to match the power of some anti-inflammatory drugs. There’s one small catch, though. Our bodies rapidly metabolize curcumin, so quickly that the healthy effects on the body are all but lost when consumed on its own. The solution? Eat turmeric with black pepper and fat.

Boosting the effects of turmeric with black pepper

Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which gives it its spicy taste. Piperine inhibits drug metabolism and increases the bioavailability of key nutrients, meaning that it allows our bodies to better absorb these nutrients. When turmeric is consumed with black pepper, curcumin is better absorbed by our bodies because of piperine. And, just a pinch of pepper makes a big difference.

Healthline, referencing a study published in Planta Med, says that this “natural substance enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.” In a video posted on Nutrition Facts, Dr. Michael Gregor discusses boosting the bioavailability of curcumin by adding black pepper when consuming. He says, “But, what if you suppress [the rapid metabolization of curcumin] by taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper? Then, you see curcumin levels [spike] in the bloodstream. Same amount of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up 2,000%.”

Boosting the effects of turmeric even more

Dr. Gregor also says that another way to boost the effects of curcumin is “to consume it in the whole food, turmeric root (fresh or dried as a powder) because natural oils found in turmeric root and turmeric powder can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin seven to eight fold.” On top of that, curcumin is fat soluble, which means that “when eaten with fat, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system thereby in part bypassing the liver.” As we’ve previously discussed, some fats are better than others, and having a moderate dose of the so-called good fats–like in cashews–is actually beneficial to your health.

So, when you consume turmeric with a little fat and a dose of black pepper (like in our dip), you get all the health benefits it has to offer. When we make our products, we don’t just want them to taste great, we want them to be provide you with as much nourishment as possible. We do our research and we take a holistic approach to everything we make, so that you can get the most goodness out of every bite.

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