Benefits of Turmeric on Keto

Turmeric is the infamous Indian golden spice that goes far beyond the kitchen. Turmeric has been used in traditional medicine throughout history. You might have this vibrant spice perched on your spice rack, but did you know turmeric is one of the most powerful spices around that’s been associated with a range of health benefits? Let’s talk turmeric!


What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that’s native to Southeast Asia. Turmeric was used historically in traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine and other Eastern Asian medical systems.

In India, turmeric is commonly used for disorders of the skin, joints, respiratory tract, and digestive system. Turmeric can even be made into a paste for treating skin conditions. Interestingly, turmeric has a wealth of high-quality studies linking it to various health benefits [1,2].


What are the Benefits of Turmeric?

The most significant and beneficial component of turmeric is called curcumin, which also gives turmeric its golden yellow color. Curcumin is a strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. The curcumin content of turmeric is actually only around 3% by weight [3].

Most studies involve turmeric extracts that contain higher amounts of curcumin with dosages typically exceeding 1 gram daily. It’s difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your food. You might need to take a supplement or extract with more significant amounts of curcumin to experience the full effects.

Consuming black pepper with curcumin can help you better absorb it into your bloodstream. Black pepper contains piperine — a natural substance that enhances curcumin absorption by 2,000%. Some curcumin supplements already have piperine in them to improve effectiveness.

It’s also important to note that curcumin is fat-soluble, so it’s a good idea to take it along with a fatty meal, which should be easy on your keto diet! [4]

benefits of tumeric

Here are some of the many benefits of turmeric:

1.   Anti-inflammatory

Long-term, chronic inflammation is associated with a plethora of health problems from arthritis and heart disease to metabolic syndrome, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease [5,6,7].

When inflammation is chronic and begins inappropriately attacking your own body tissues, disease unfolds. Anything that can help fight chronic inflammation might also help prevent and even treat these diseases. Curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory that can even match the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs, without all the side effects! [8,9,10]

Studies show curcumin blocks a specific molecule (NF-kB) that turns on genes related to inflammation. This molecule is believed to be a major player in chronic disease, and curcumin is a bioactive substance that reduces inflammation at the cellular and molecular level [11,12,13,14,15].


2.   Strong Antioxidant

Health experts believe oxidative damage is a key mechanism behind a range of diseases. Oxidative damage involves highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. These reactive molecules are called free radicals, and they can damage your body when they react with important organic substances, such as DNA, proteins, and fatty acids.

Antioxidants are beneficial because they protect your body from these free radicals and oxidative damage. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant with a chemical structure that can neutralize free radicals. Curcumin also boosts your body’s own antioxidant enzymes [16,17,18,19,20].


3.   Boosts Brain Power

We now know that neurons can form new connections, and in certain areas of the brain, neurons can multiply and increase in number. A primary driver of this process is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) — a type of growth hormone [21].

Several common brain disorders have been associated with reduced levels of this hormone, including Alzheimer’s disease and depression [22,23].

Curcumin can actually increase brain levels of BDNF, which might be effective in delaying or even reversing a range of brain diseases [24,25,26].

Best Ways to Include Turmeric in Your Ketogenic Diet

Turmeric is versatile and you can include it in your keto diet in several different ways. Try turmeric:

  • In a tea
  • In a soup (like a bone broth coconut milk soup!)
  • Blended in a smoothie (spice up your green smoothie!)
  • Added to scrambles and frittatas!
  • Added to a keto pasta or cauliflower rice dish
  • With roasted veggies
  • With fish
Keto Turmeric Smoothie

Many people in the health world enjoy golden milk. Golden milk is a turmeric drink made by blending an unsweetened milk of your choice (usually coconut milk) with turmeric and black pepper. Some people also add cinnamon powder and ginger.



Do You Use Turmeric in Your Ketogenic Diet?

How do you use turmeric to improve your health? What are your favorite spices?




1.    National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Turmeric.

2.    Nagpal, M., & Sood, S. (2013). Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, 4(1), 3-7. DOI: 10.4103/0976-9668.107253

3.    Tayyem, R. F., Heath, D. D., Al-Delaimy, W. K., & Rock, C. L. (2006). Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders. Nutrition and Cancer, 55(2), 126-131. DOI: 10.1207/s15327914nc5502_2

4.    Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., & Srinivas, P. S. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Medica, 64(4), 353-356. DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-957450

5.    Libby, P. (2002). Inflammation in atherosclerosis. Nature, 420(6917), 868-874. DOI: 10.1038/nature01323

6.    Coussens, L. M., & Werb, Z. (2002). Inflammation and cancer. Nature, 420(6917), 860-867. DOI: 10.1038/nature01322

7.    Lumeng, C. N., & Saltiel, A. R. (2011). Inflammatory links between obesity and metabolic disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 121(6), 2111-2117. DOI: 10.1172/JCI57132

8.    Jurenka, J. S. (2009). Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of cucuma longa: A review of preclinical and clinical research. Alternative Medicine Review, 14(2), 141-153.

9.    Lal, B., Kapoor, A. K., Asthana, O. P., Agrawal, P. K., Prasad, R., Kumar, P., & Srimal, R. C. (1999). Efficacy of curcumin in the management of chronic anterior uveitis. Phytotherapy Research, 13(4), 318-322. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199906)13:4<318::AID-PTR445>3.0.CO;2

10. Takada, Y., Bhardwaj, A., Potdar, P., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2004). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene, 23(57), 9247-9258. DOI: 10.1038/sj.onc.1208169

11. Singh, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (1995). Activation of transcription factor NF-kB is suppressed by curcumin. Journal of Biological Chemistry, DOI: 10.1074/jbc.270.42.24995October 20,

12. Marin, Y. E., Wall, B. A., Wang, S., Namkoong, J., Martino, J. J., Suh, J., Lee, H. J., Rabson, A. B., Yang, C. S., Chen, S., & Ryu, J-H. (2007). Curcumin downregulates the constitutive activity of NF-kappaB and induces apoptosis in novel mouse melanoma cells. Melanoma Research, 17(5), 274-283. DOI: 10.1097/CMR.0b013e3282ed3d0e

13. Chainani-Wu, N. (2003). Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: A component of turmeric (curcuma longa). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 9(1), 161-168. DOI: 10.1089/107555303321223035

14. Goel, A., Boland, C. R., & Chauhan, D. P. (2001). Specific inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2) expression by dietary curcumin in HT-29 human colon cancer cells. Cancer Letters, 172(2), 111-118.

15. Aggarwal, B. B., & Harikumar, K. B. (2009). Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune, and neoplastic diseases. The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 41(1), 40-59.

16. Menon, V. P., & Sudheer, A. R. (2007). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 595, 105-125. DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_3

17. Barclay, L. R., Vinqvist, M. R., Mukai, K., Goto, H., Hashimoto, Y., Tokunaga, A., & Uno, H. (2000). On the antioxidant mechanism of curcumin: Classical methods are needed to determine antioxidant mechanism and activity. Organic Letters, 2(18), 2841-2843. DOI: 10.1021/ol000173t

18. Agarwal, R., Goel, S. K., & Behari, J. R. (2010). Detoxification and antioxidant effects of curcumin in rats experimentally exposed to mercury. Journal of Applied Toxicology,

19. Bulmus, F. G., Sakin, F., Turk, G., Sonmez, M., & Servi, K. (2013). Protective effects of curcumin on antioxidant status, body weight gain, and reproductive parameters in male rats exposed to subchronic 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Journal of Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry,

20. Biswas, S. K., McClure, D., Jimenez, L. A., Megson, I. L., & Rahman, I. (2005). Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappaB activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: Mechanism of free radical scavenging activity. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, 7(1-2), 32-41. DOI: 10.1089/ars.2005.7.32

21. Binder, D. K., & Scharhman, H. E. (2004). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Growth Factors, 22(3), 123-131. DOI: 10.1080/08977190410001723308

22. Shimizu, E., Hashimoto, K., Okamura, N., Koike, K., Komatsu, N., Kumakiri, C., Nakazato, M., Watanabe, H., Shinoda, N., Okada, S-I., & Masoami, L. (2003). Alterations of serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depressed patients with or without antidepressants. Biological Psychiatry, 54(1), 70-75.

23. Phillips, H. S., Hains, J. M., Armanini, M., Laramee, G. R., Johnson, S. A., & Winslow, J. W. (1991). BDNF mRNA is decreased in the hippocampus of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Neuron, 7(5), 695-702.

24. Xu, Y., Ku, B., Tie, L., Yao, H., Jiang, W., Ma, X., Li, X. (2006). Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Brain Research, 1122(1), 56-64.

25. Hurley, L. L., Akinfiresoye, L., Nwulia, E., Kamiya, A., Kulkarni, A. A., & Tizabi, Y. (2013). Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF. Behavioural Brain Research, 239, 27-30.

26. Dong, S., Zeng, O., Mitchell, E. S., Xiu, J., Duan, Y., Li, C., Tiwari, J. K., Hu, Y., Cao, X., & Zhao, Z. (2012). Curcumin enhances neurogenesis and cognition in aged rats: Implications for transcriptional interactions related to growth and synaptic plasticity. PLoS One, 7(2), e31211. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031211

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