Many of us have been sprinkling turmeric into more of our meals lately, but we might not be getting all of the benefits we’re hoping for from the bright spice. Apparently, our bodies don’t absorb it all that well on its own — but adding a dash of another common spice can help fix that.
According to University of Massachusetts Medical School, all of the healthy things we hope for with turmeric come from an antioxidant called curcumin. However, it only makes up about 5 percent of the spice, so it’s difficult for our bodies to hold onto it and process it properly.
But the experts claim that piperine in black pepper, which is responsible for its distinct pepper-y flavor, can make the curcurmin more “bioavailable.” That essentially means our bodies will be less likely to excrete the curcurmin before we get the benefits going through our bloodstream.
It doesn’t take much pepper to get the job done, either. Regardless of how much turmeric you’re using, adding just 1/20 of a teaspoon of pepper will help! That means even if you’re making a sweet turmeric latte or smoothie, a tiny sprinkle of black pepper will amp up the healthy perks without throwing off the flavor.
If you’re really not a pepper fan, though, UMass says you can also increase the bioavailability of curcumin by combining it with a source of fat instead. They list examples like avocado, nut butters, and fish — all of which taste lovely with a dash of turmeric.