Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Turmeric has a slew of health benefits, but you can't take full advantage of them without this one thing. 

Arielle Weg
October 20, 2017

This bright orange powder has earned its place in the health spotlight — these days, everyone's eager to mix it into curry, sprinkle it into a latte, or bake it onto protein. Turmeric gets its healthy rep from the antioxidant polyphenol, called curcumin. This compound has been linked to potentially preventing chronic diseases, plus offering anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Clinical studies have associated curcumin with weight loss, improved blood lipids, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced risk for atherosclerosis. 

It sounds pretty great, but there's a catch (of course). Curcumin isn't easily absorbed by the body, making all of the potential health benefits nearly useless, according to a literature review published in Molecular Pharmaceutics. This is because it has poor bioavailability, meaning your body excretes the ingredient before you get a chance to reap the benefits. 

The good news is you can help your body absorb the nutritional goodness of turmeric with piperine, according to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Piperine is a component that is known to increase bioavailability, and lucky for us, you can find a ton of it in black pepper. Black pepper can even improve availability of curcumin by 1000 times more than without it, Time reported. 

If you're looking for ways to incorporate turmeric with black pepper, try these awesome recipes. 

There's no real magic ratio of black pepper to turmeric, just be sure you give a little dash of pepper in all of your turmeric-loaded recipes to reap the ultimate health benefits.