Foods vs. Supplements: The Turmeric vs. Curcumin Edition

Turmeric It's Not Just for Curry Anymore!

Turmeric vs. Curcumin


OK – you’ve probably heard of turmeric.  It’s been touted all over the “health waves” recently to be helpful for all sorts of diseases.


Got pain?  Have some turmeric.


What about cancer?  Have some turmeric.


Diabetes?  Have some turmeric.


And the list goes on…


You probably also know it’s the golden coloured powder in curry spices.  You may even enjoy eating curry (I do!).  BUT, what if you don’t like it?  (Oh, the horror!)  🙂


Turmeric: It’s NOT Just for Curry Anymore…100+ ways to eat turmeric!

You may wonder:


Does it work?


Should I supplement?


Should I eat it?


And most important of all:


“If I should eat it and DON’T like curry, how the heck can I even consider it?”


Great questions!


(If you want to skip the answers to these questions and go straight to the recipes, just scroll down the page a bit)



Click here to download a handy comparison chart of Turmeric vs Curcumin!



What is turmeric and what does it do?


Turmeric is a spice, and it’s not a “spicy-hot” strong-flavoured spice either.  I personally find the strength (not the flavour) to be similar to ginger.  Turmeric is a rhizome (1) that is dried and ground to make turmeric powder.  The main and most studied ‘active ingredient’ in turmeric (2) is called curcumin, which makes up less than 7% of the dried weight of the spice.


Curcumin supplements have been shown in many, many scientific studies to have anti-inflammatory (3), anti-oxidant, anti-cancer (4), and pain-relieving effects.  It is also being studied to protect your brain and heart, as well as to prevent and reduce the side-effects of diabetes (5).


It has been studied for dozens and dozens of other health uses – check out the table in this link.


It is fat-soluble and not well absorbed from your gut, and it seems to be quite safe for most people even at higher doses (see “Foods vs. Supplements” below).  If you want to actually absorb the curcumin into your bloodstream, you should add a bit of black pepper (6), otherwise most of it will go right through you, which can still be helpful for your gut (7).


Turmeric vs Curcumin - What's the diff? Find out here! #turmeric #curcumin #supp #recipe Click To Tweet


Foods vs. Supps: The Turmeric Edition
Foods vs. Supps: The Turmeric Edition


Foods vs. Supplements; Turmeric vs. Curcumin


We all know that food is NOT a supplement (8).


As mentioned earlier, the amount of curcumin in turmeric is under 7%.  The actual quantity of the curcumin in the supplement should be stated on the label.  Of course, this is not the case when you eat the actual ‘root’ or the dried/powdered turmeric from the spice section of your grocery store.


In Canada, where we have fairly strict Natural Health Product Regulations, curcumin supplements have been approved for use as an antioxidant, as well as to help relieve joint inflammation (10).


There are a few cautions to consider before taking curcumin as a supplement (9).  They are if you:


  • Are pregnant (9, 10);

  • Are taking anti-platelet medications or blood thinners (10);

  • Have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction (9, 10); or

  • Have stomach ulcers or excess stomach acid (10)


Eating turmeric itself will NOT be as potent as taking the approved dose of 300 mg supplement of curcumin 3 times a day.  According to some scientific reviews, eating turmeric may help to prevent some diseases (11), and there has been some efficacy shown (12).  But most of the effects mentioned above have been shown with curcumin supplements and not dietary turmeric.


Who should NOT take curcumin supps? Find out here! #turmeric #curcumin #supp #recipe Click To Tweet


Here’s a quick calculation:


If you want 300 mg of curcumin, and it’s up to 7% of the actual turmeric powder, you’d need: 300/0.07 = 4.3 g of turmeric root, at least.  And if you’re taking that at the approved therapeutic dose of 300 mg 3x/day, you’re looking at 4.3g x 3 = 12.9 g of turmeric powder a day.


My bottle of turmeric is 67.5g total.  (If you’d like one, here’s an affiliate link to pick one up, and here’s the non-affiliate link to the same product).


67.5 g bottle of turmeric
67.5 g bottle of turmeric

This means that I myself (as one person) needs to eat 12.9g/67.5g = 0.19 bottles every day.  That’s just under 1/5 of the bottle if I want to get that approved dosage for anti-oxidation or relief of joint inflammation.


I’d be going through an entire bottle every 5 days to get those results!


BUT, if you’re game to try a bit of disease prevention (and honestly, why not?) and aren’t specifically looking for anti-oxidant, anti-inflammation or pain relief outcomes right now, then maybe you should add a bit of it into your meals?



Summary of the NUTRITION Interactions of Turmeric (the food) vs. Curcumin (the supplement)


Curcumin, the most widely studied ‘active ingredient’ of turmeric has many scientifically proven health benefits relating to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  Curcumin supplements have been shown to help with pain, cancer and diabetes, amongst other conditions.  They have Health Canada approval to be sold as an anti-oxidant and to relieve joint inflammation.  Caution is advised when considering curcumin supplements if you are pregnant, taking blood-thinner medications, have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction, or if you have stomach ulcers or excess stomach acid. Turmeric (the food, not the supplement) is not as potent as curcumin since the curcumin is no more than 7% of the spice.  Turmeric (the spice) may play a role in disease prevention and food deliciousness.


Click here to download a handy comparison chart of Turmeric vs Curcumin!

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The Recipes


OK, enough of the science and regulations – on to the recipes!


Want 100+ turmeric recipes? Click here! #turmeric #curcumin #supp #recipe Click To Tweet


(What’s next for the “Foods vs. Supplement” series you ask?  I have lots of ideas, but let me know what you’d like to see in the comments below.)


If you want to get the next installment of “Foods vs. Supplement”, then be sure to add your name and email address to sign up for NUTRITION Interactions updates, right here, or over on the right-hand side of this web page.


100+ ways to eat turmeric

100+ Ways to Eat Turmeric (including a couple of curries…for good measure) 🙂


Personally, I don’t just eat turmeric in my curries, I also hide turmeric in whatever orangy or creamy food I make.  I add a few dashes to quiches, creamy soups, and anything with a cheesy sauce.


But, for a bit of inspiration, I’ve compiled a list of over 100 recipes that use turmeric.


Have you had turmeric for breakfast yet?


Have you had any to drink?


Well, here are lots of ideas to choose from to get started adding a bit of turmeric to your food.


Of course, if turmeric is new to you, you may need some time for your taste buds to adjust (13), but as I said, it’s not a spicy kind of “hot” spice.  Don’t worry, introducing new and different-tasting foods often needs to be done gradually over and over before it becomes really enjoyed (14).


BUT, maybe not – maybe you’ll just love it…


IMPORTANT NOTE:  FRESH turmeric stains!  My poor Vitamix blender permanently turned bright yellow that time I was all excited to see fresh turmeric ‘root’ at my local health food store.  It was such a novelty to find fresh organic turmeric root on the island (I live in Newfoundland, off the East Coast of Canada).  I’ve never had a problem with the dried/powdered turmeric staining anything.


Curry Powder – Stone Soup


My kids and I love this recipe (see video at 2:11) – Apple Pie Chia – SexyFoodTherapy

Turmeric Persimmon Porridge

Chai Turmeric Chia Pudding – Richelle Ludwig

Turmeric Brown Rice Pudding – Kris Carr

Hemp Apple Bake – Julie Daniluk

Turmeric Breakfast Muffins – Green Kitchen Stories

Turmeric Chai Chia Pudding – The Blenderist

Three Vegan Breakfast Recipes – Hortus Cuisine

Turmeric Milk Chia Pudding – A Path To Paradise

Vanilla Turmeric Chia Pudding – Runners Table

Hazelnut Chia Breakfast Bowl – Ashley Neese

Buckwheat Turmeric Pancakes – One Green Planet



Baked Turmeric Plaintain Chips – Organic Connect Mag

Simple Curried Cashews – Deliciously Vibrant

Turmeric Sea Salt Popcorn – Joyous Health

Cheesy Calcutta Kale Chips – Kimberly Snyder

Curry Spiced Pumpkin Seeds – Real Food RN

Toasted Turmeric Pumpkin Seeds – Summer Tomato

Healthy Queso Dip – Detoxinista

Turmeric Roasted Cashews with Chia – Cook Republic


Mains – Vegetarian

Omelet with Turmeric, Tomato & Onion

Vegan Mac & Cheese – Oh She Glows

Fresh Herb Tofu Fritatta – Nutrition Twins

Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese – Kris Carr

Chick Pea Curry Lettuce Wraps – My Whole Food Life

Baked Quinoa Falafel with Turmeric Sauce – Simply Quinoa

Golden Curried Vegetable Stew – The Cozy Apron

Persian Zucchini Frittata – Saveur

Spinach and Mushroom Omelet – Season With Spice

West Indian Style Channa Wrap – Marcus Samuelsson

Dahi Aloo – Veg Recipes of India

Turmeric Egg Salad Sandwich – Season With Spice

Spicy Buddha Bowl – My Wife Makes


Mains – Meat

Turmeric & Spice Chicken Drumsticks – Real Food With Dana

Easy Paleo Chicken Curry – Stupid Easy Paleo

30 Minute Easy Chicken and Chick Pea Curry – Rock Recipes

Ground Beef Stuffed Acorn Squash – Healthy Foodie

Easy Beef Stew Crock Pot – The Real Food Guide

Crispy Fish ‘n Chips – Weedem and Reap

Slow Cooker Citrus Pork – Balanced Bites

Shrimp Biriyani – Foodie Physician

Turmeric Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry – Tablespoon

Turmeric Mini Meatballs – Healthful Pursuit



Turmeric & Lentil Soup – Deliciously Ella

Chicken Kale Turmeric Soup – Julie Daniluk

Healing Chicken Soup – Stupid Easy Paleo

Creamy Broccoli Turmeric Soup – Harmony Healing

Best Simple Squash Soup – Coconut Lime Nutrition

Curry Cabbage Chick Pea Soup – Joyous Health

Healing Chicken Soup – Stupid Easy Paleo

Leek, Fennel, Apple, Walnut Soup With Turmeric – The First Mess

Roasted Carrot Turmeric Soup – Love and Lemons

Homemade Onion Soup Mix – Real Food RN



A Warm Salad – Dolly and Oatmeal

Ukranian Babka – Kitchen Magpie

Golden Coconut Brown Rice – Yummy Life

Garlic Turmeric Cashew Cream – Tasty Yummies

Twice Baked Broccoli Cheeze Potatoes – Healthy Girls Kitchen

Sweet Potato Mash – Julie Daniluk

Indian Spiced Spinach – Chris Kresser

The Best Creamy Coleslaw – The Paleo Mom

Cauliflower Fritters – Lynsey Loves Food

Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric & Ginger – Food Network

Turmeric Rice –

Turmeric Garlic Dill Pickles – Northwest Edible Life



Barbeque Sauce – The Paleo Mom

Creamy Turmeric Sauce – Hollywood Homestead

Balsamic Almond Turmeric Dressing – Lemons and Basil

Creamy Anti-inflammatory Salad Dressing or Sauce – Go Dairy Free

Homemade Mustard – Wonky Wonderful

Turmeric Tahini Dressing – Bon Appetit

Garlic Turmeric Sauce – Eat To Beat Cancer

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Dressing – Healthy Holistic Living

Turmeric Sun Dressing – All Recipes


Hot Drinks

Superfood Hot Chocolate – MindBodyGreen

Turmeric Tea – Nutrition Stripped

Turmeric Tea – Julie Daniluk

Turmeric Tea – 101 Cookbooks

Turmeric Tea Golden Milk – Wellness Mama

Turmeric Tea – Meghan Telpner

Turmeric Tea – Dr. Axe

Dairy-free Immunity Boosting Turmeric Milk – Yum Universe

Antioxidant Superfood Hot Chocolate – Savory Lotus

Turmeric Chai Latte – Savory Simple


Cold Drinks

Is Juicing a Good Idea for Arthritis? (See Recipes 1 & 3) – Health Ambition

Fat-Burning Bedtime Shake – Healthful Pursuit

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade – Whole Journey

Creamy Tropical Turmeric Smoothie – Savory Lotus

Nourishing Turmeric Milk – Healthful Pursuit

Mango Lassi with Kefir – Lynsey Loves Food

Turmeric Sweet Potato Orange Juice – Reboot with Joe

Fire Shot – Fresh Restaurant

Immune Booster Orange Smoothie – Minimalist Baker

Turmeric Mango Smoothie – Kris Carr

Anti-inflammatory Smoothie – Roasted Root

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix – Hello Natural

Pineapple Turmeric Post-Workout Smoothie – My Vega

Pain-Relieving Turmeric Juice – So Lets Hang Out



Carrot Orange Ice Pops – Spunky Coconut

No Bake Double Chocolate Super Amazing Granola Bars – Lunchbox Bunch

Mango Ice Cream with Turmeric – LA Healthy Living

Rice Pudding with Turmeric and Almonds – Lucullian Delights

Turmeric and Mango Raw Pudding – LuliTonix


And there you have it!  Over 100 ways to eat turmeric, and NOT just in your curry.  There has GOT to be something here that you’ll like.


And if you know someone else who may need some inspiration to try new and exciting turmeric recipes, please share this post!  🙂

Did I miss your favourite recipe???  If so, PLEASE post it in the comments below.  Thanks!  🙂


What’s next for the “Foods vs. Supplement” series you ask?  I have lots of ideas, but let me know what you’d like to see in the comments below.

If you liked this post and want to get the next installment of “Foods vs. Supplement”, then you can sign up right here.


Leesa Klich is a science-based holistic nutritionist living at the intersection of science and holistic health (it’s really, really interesting here!) 🙂

At Nutrition Interactions she empowers women to optimize their bone health using foods, supplements and lifestyle upgrades.  She also helps holistic-minded people taking medications maximize the benefits of good nutrition; as well as holistic health professionals find and understand science-based health information.

She has a MSc in Toxicology and Nutritional Science, over a decade experience in drug/supplement safety, and is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. For a list of free health resources, click here.


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12 thoughts on “Foods vs. Supplements: The Turmeric vs. Curcumin Edition

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  2. My most commonly made dish is Tomato and Lentil Dahl which is a Thermomix recipe from The Basic Cookbook Leesa! It calls for 2 tsp ground turmeric but I always add a good nob of the turmeric root.
    Thanks for this article Leesa. I am really enjoying my training in nutritional and environmental medicine that you checked out for me earlier this year and curcumin is covered in the cancer lecture. I didn’t realise that for being an antioxidant and immune modulating, there is over 100 pathways so far… this is amazing! I’m looking forward to trying more recipes.

    1. Hey Lorraine! So glad you’re enjoying your nutrition and environmental medicine program – some of these foods and nutrients are amazing, and the science is growing every day. 🙂

  3. This is really great. I’ve been told to use turmeric for health reasons. I tried it, but it didn’t stick when I was on my own. You offer really useful ideas and recipes. I’ll try some of these. thanks!

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