Golden Milk: Are There Health Benefits?

Golden milk, also known as haldi doodh in hindi or as turmeric milk in popular culture, is a drink with a lot of history. It has been a part of Indian culture for centuries. The drink is bright gold, stemming from yellow turmeric mixed into white milk. Its striking appearance has made it a common sight at niche cafés listed as a “turmeric latte” and at specialty grocery stores around the country in recent years. 

There are plenty of ways to make golden milk. The basic recipe involves combining animal or plant milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and some kind of sweetener. Some recipes also include black pepper, nutmeg, or other spices and sweeteners. The mixture is heated to provide a warm, soothing drink that’s reported to prevent against common ailments, including:

While early research and some medical professionals have supported claims regarding the health benefits of golden milk, further studies need to be done.

Nutrition Information

One 100 ml serving of cashew-based golden milk contains:

Golden milk is a great source of:

Golden milk is also an excellent source of potassium. Studies have shown that potassium is connected to a lower risk of stroke-associated mortality, and generally lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Potential Health Benefits of Golden Milk

There are so many ways to enjoy golden milk that it’s easy to find a recipe that works for you. While recipes for golden milk can vary from person to person, turmeric is always included.

Turmeric may offer the following significant health benefits in addition to its delicious taste.

Reduced Inflammation

Turmeric is an excellent source of curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its yellow color. Studies have linked curcumin to lower inflammation levels in patients, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. Consuming turmeric regularly can help reduce inflammation in the body and significantly reduce symptoms of already-present inflammatory conditions.

Improve Brain Health

Curcumin has also been linked to improved brain health and memory. Studies have connected regular curcumin consumption to increased levels of important brain compounds that help encourage growth and neural connections. Neural connections enable your brain to function properly. Higher levels of this compound may help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Potential Risks of Golden Milk

Because of the potency of curcumin, consuming too much golden milk may also have negative effects. Consider the following before preparing or drinking golden milk. 

Stomach Distress

While curcumin may help some people who have an upset stomach, it can also be the cause of an upset stomach for others. The same studies that point to curcumin’s benefits in moderation also show that it can lead to stomach cramping and diarrhea in large amounts. People who consumed between half a gram and 12 grams of pure curcumin have reported cramps, stomach distress, and nausea.

However, turmeric is not made of pure curcumin. Ground turmeric is only about 3% curcumin, so to consume half a gram of curcumin, you’d need to consume at least 17 grams of turmeric daily. Most golden milk recipes call for much less than that per serving. Keeping your golden milk consumption to one serving a day can help you avoid unpleasant side effects from too much curcumin. 

Trigger Allergies

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If you aren’t making golden milk yourself, you should pay attention to the label. Though buying golden milk from a store or a café may be easier than making it at home, it can be dangerous for people with food allergies or intolerances. 

People with soy or nut allergies should avoid many kinds of shelf-stable golden milk. Most shelf-stable golden milk is made with plant milks such as almond milk, cashew milk, or soy milk. Even if the golden milk itself is made with ingredients that are safe for you to consume, the plant milk may have been made in a facility that processes other plant milks that trigger your allergies. 

Similarly, people who are allergic to dairy or who live with lactose intolerance should be cautious around manufactured golden milk. Read the label carefully to check for dairy, especially in refrigerated golden milk. This can help you avoid drinking anything that will cause your body to react negatively. 

Healthier Alternatives

Making your own golden milk at home can help you ensure that it’s safe and healthy. You can choose your preferred base milk, you can control the amount of turmeric that goes into the drink, and you can sweeten it to your liking. This is the best way to guarantee that your golden milk is healthy and safe for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 24, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

FoodData Central: “GOLDEN MILK.”

Foods: “Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health.”

Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine: “Biological activities of curcuminoids, other biomolecules from turmeric and their derivatives - A review.”

Natural Reviews, Neurology: “Brain-derived neurotrophic factor in neurodegenerative diseases.”

Neuropeptides: “Effect of curcumin on serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in women with premenstrual syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.”

Pediatric Clinics of North America: “Milk and Soy Allergy.”

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