It is an Indian drink that has been gaining popularity in Western cultures.
Golden milk is also known as turmeric milk.
This bright yellow drink is traditionally made by heating cows or plant-based milk with turmeric and other spices, such as cinnamon and ginger.
It is touted for its many health benefits and is often used as an alternative remedy to boost immunity and ward off disease.
Here are ten science-based benefits of golden milk – and a recipe for making it
- Key ingredients are loaded with antioxidants.
The key ingredient in golden milk is turmeric, a popular yellow spice in Asian cuisine, which gives curry its yellow color.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries because of its potent antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are compounds that fight cell damage and protect your body from oxidative stress.
They are essential for the function of your cells, and studies regularly show that diets rich in antioxidants can help reduce the risk of infections and diseases.
Most recipes for golden milk also include cinnamon and ginger; both also have impressive antioxidant properties.
Golden milk is rich in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage, fight disease and infection, and contribute to your overall health.
- Can it help reduce inflammation and joint pain?
The ingredients in golden milk have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic inflammation plays a vital role in chronic diseases, such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. For this reason, diets rich in anti-inflammatory compounds can reduce the risk of these conditions.
Research shows that ginger, cinnamon, and curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies even suggest that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to some pharmaceutical drugs without any side effects.
For example, a study in 45 people with rheumatoid arthritis found that 500 grams of curcumin a day reduced joint pain by 50 grams of a common arthritis drug or a combination of curcumin and the cure.
Similarly, in a 6-week study of 247 people with osteoarthritis, those who received ginger extract experienced less pain and required more minor pain relievers than those who received a placebo.
Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon, the main ingredients in golden milk, have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation and joint pain.
- Can improve memory and brain function
Golden milk can also be good for your brain.
Studies show that curcumin can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a compound that helps your brain form new connections and promotes the growth of brain cells.
Low levels of BDNF can be linked to brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
For example, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of a specific protein in the brain, called tau protein. Test tube and animal studies show that compounds in cinnamon can prevent this build-up.
Additionally, cinnamon reduces Parkinson’s disease symptoms and improves brain function in animal studies.
Ginger can also stimulate brain function by improving reaction time and memory. Additionally, ginger appears to protect against age-related loss of brain function in animal studies.
More human research is needed to fully understand the effects of these ingredients on memory and brain function.
Some ingredients in golden milk can help preserve memory and prevent the decline in brain function of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Curcumin in turmeric can improve mood.
It appears that turmeric, more specifically its active compound curcumin, can boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
In a 6-week study, 60 people with major depressive disorders took curcumin, an antidepressant, or combinations.
Those who received curcumin alone experienced similar improvements as those who received antidepressants, while the combination group saw the most benefits.
Depression may also be related to low brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF).
Since curcumin appears to increase BDNF levels, it may have the potential to reduce symptoms of depression.
Few studies have been done in this area, and more are needed before any firm conclusions can be reached.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can help reduce symptoms of depression. However, more research is needed.
- Can protect against heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Interestingly, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric, the critical ingredients in golden milk, have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
For example, ten studies concluded that 120 mg of cinnamon per day could lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and “bad” LDL levels while increasing “good” HDL levels.
In another study, 41 participants with type 2 diabetes received 2 grams of ginger powder per day. At the end of the 12-week study, the risk factors measured for heart disease were 23-28% lower.
Additionally, curcumin can improve the function of the linings of blood vessels, known as endothelial function. Proper endothelial function is essential for a healthy heart.
In one study, people undergoing heart surgery were given 4 grams of curcumin or a placebo a few days before and after surgery.
Those who received curcumin were 65% less likely to have a heart attack during their hospital stay than people in the placebo group.
These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can also protect against heart disease. However, the studies are small and distant, and more is needed before solid conclusions can be reached.
Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon, the main ingredients in golden milk, have properties that benefit heart function and protect against heart disease. Still, more studies are needed to confirm these effects.
- May lower blood sugar levels
The ingredients in golden milk, especially ginger and cinnamon, can help lower blood sugar levels.
For example, 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day can lower fasting blood sugar levels by 29%. Also, cinnamon can reduce insulin resistance.
Insulin-resistant cells can absorb less sugar from the blood, so lowering insulin resistance generally reduces blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon appears to reduce the amount of glucose absorbed from the gut after a meal, which can further improve blood sugar control.
Similarly, regularly adding small amounts of ginger to your diet can help lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 12%.
A small, daily dose of ginger can also lower hemoglobin A1C levels by 10%, a long-term blood sugar control marker.
The evidence is based on only a few studies, and more research is needed to confirm these observations.
It’s worth noting that most recipes for golden milk are sweetened with honey or maple syrup. If any, blood sugar lowering benefits are probably only present when drinking unsweetened varieties.
Cinnamon and ginger, two primary ingredients in golden milk, can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. However, more research is needed.
- It can reduce your risk of cancer.
Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.
In addition to conventional treatments, more and more alternative remedies for cancer are being sought. Interestingly, some research suggests that the spices used in golden milk may offer some benefits.
For example, some test-tube studies attribute anticancer properties to 6-gingerol, a substance found in large amounts in raw ginger.
Similarly, laboratory and animal studies report that compounds in cinnamon can help reduce the growth of cancer cells.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can also kill cancer cells and prevent the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, limiting their ability to spread.
The evidence of the cancer-fighting benefits of ginger, cinnamon, and curcumin remains limited.
Additionally, the study results are conflicting, and it is unclear how much of each ingredient must be consumed to achieve these benefits.
Studies indicate that cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric may offer some protection against cancer. However, the results are conflicting, and further research is needed.
- Antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties can boost immunity.
In India, golden milk is often used as a home remedy for colds. The yellow drink is touted for its immunostimulating properties, which may be due to its ingredients.
For example, research shows that curcumin has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties to help prevent and fight infections.
Additionally, the compounds in fresh ginger can inhibit the growth of some bacteria. Ginger extract can fight the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), a common cause of respiratory infections.
Similarly, laboratory studies indicate that cinnamaldehyde, the active compound in cinnamon, can prevent the growth of bacteria. Also, it can help treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi.
The ingredients in golden milk also have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can further strengthen your immune system.
The ingredients used to produce golden milk have antibacterial and antiviral properties to protect your body from infection. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can also strengthen your immune system.
- Ginger and turmeric can improve digestion.
Chronic indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is characterized by pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach.
Delayed stomach emptying is a potential cause of indigestion. Ginger, one of the ingredients used in golden milk, can help alleviate this condition by speeding up stomach emptying in people suffering from dyspepsia.
Research further shows that turmeric, another ingredient used to make golden milk, can help reduce indigestion symptoms. Turmeric can also improve fat digestion by increasing bile production by 62%.
Finally, studies show that turmeric can help maintain proper digestion and prevent flare-ups in individuals with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory digestive disorder that causes ulcers in the gut.
Ginger and turmeric, two ingredients in golden milk, can help ease indigestion. Turmeric can also help relieve symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis.
- Calcium and vitamin D contribute to stronger bones.
Golden milk can contribute to a strong skeleton.
Both cow’s and enriched plant-based milk are generally rich in calcium and vitamin D – two essential nutrients for building and maintaining strong bones.
If your diet is deficient in calcium, your body begins to remove calcium from your bones to maintain normal calcium levels in your blood. Over time, this weakens and weakens the bones, increasing the risk of bone diseases, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones by improving your intestine’s ability to absorb calcium from your diet. Low vitamin D levels in your body can lead to weak and brittle bones, even if your diet is rich in calcium.
Although cow’s milk naturally contains calcium and is often enriched with vitamin D, not all plant-based dairy are rich in these two nutrients.
If you prefer to make your golden milk with plant-based milk, choose one fortified with calcium and vitamin D for more bone-strengthening benefits.
Golden milk can be rich in calcium and vitamin D, depending on your milk. These nutrients contribute to a strong skeleton, reducing the risk of bone diseases, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.
How to prepare golden milk
Golden milk is easy to make at home – follow this recipe:
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) of unsweetened milk of your choice.
- One teaspoon of turmeric.
- One small piece of grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- One pinch of ground black pepper.
- One teaspoon of honey or maple syrup (optional).
To make the golden milk, mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan or pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and flavorful.
Strain the drink through a fine strainer into cups and top with a pinch of cinnamon.
Golden milk can also be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for five days. Just reheat it before drinking.
Golden milk is easy to prepare at home by following the recipe above. Mix the ingredients in a pot or saucepan and heat for a delicious and healthy drink.
The bottom line
Golden milk is a delicious drink loaded with antioxidants that can provide various health benefits, from a healthier brain and heart to stronger bones, better digestion, and lower disease risk.
Use milk with calcium and vitamin D for most health benefits, and limit the amount of honey or syrup you add to your drink.