Ready to ditch the coffee? Try golden milk.
If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen photos of mugs containing a golden yellow beverage. What is it? You guessed it — golden milk. Touted for a long list of health benefits, you’re definitely missing out if you’ve yet to try it.
So, what exactly is golden milk?
Golden milk is a traditional Ayurvedic drink prized for its numerous health benefits. It gets its rich golden color from the herbaceous, earthy, and spicy turmeric, but it often contains other spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, ashwagandha, and sometimes even cayenne pepper.
When combined with coconut milk, it makes a rich, creamy beverage that can be served hot or cold. You can balance out the bitter taste and enhance the potency of the turmeric by adding a touch of honey. Bitter tastes help to detoxify the body, while sweet ones’ increase bioavailability to carry the medicinal qualities of bitters deeper into your tissues.1
Apart from helping to detoxify the body, golden milk has plenty of other benefits, mostly linked to curcumin, the active constituent in turmeric. These include:2, 3
- Natural anti-inflammatory — curcumin blocks a molecule called NF-kB, which activates the genes that initiate inflammation
- Antioxidant — has a structure that neutralizes free radicals and prevents oxidative damage
- Boosts brain function — increases brain levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth hormone present in the brain
- Lowers risk of heart disease — improves function of the linings of blood vessels
- Helps prevent cancer— decreases growth of new bloods vessels in tumors and the spread of cancerous cells
- Boosts the immune system — antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties
- Improves mood — potential to boost mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine
You’ll often see turmeric paired with black pepper. This is because black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which prevents the liver from metabolizing curcumin before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Even a tiny pinch can increase its bioavailability by up to 2,000%! 4
The other spices added to golden milk also benefit the body. Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar, and helps fight bacterial and fungal infections.5 Ginger, another anti-inflammatory, helps reduce nausea and treat indigestion, reduce muscle pain and soreness, has anti-diabetic properties that help to reduce blood sugar, and may help improve brain function.6 Using full-fat coconut milk also provides a dose of healthy fats needed for proper brain functioning. It also helps to fight viruses and bacteria, reduces inflammation, improves heart health, and has a positive impact on weight and metabolism.7
Let’s talk about the one unique addition to golden milk that often times you won’t see in traditional recipes: ashwagandha. Ashwa- what, you say? Ashwagandha is known for its powerful adaptogenic properties, meaning it helps the body adapt and recover from physical and psychological stress. If that's not enough, there are also several other benefits to adding it to your golden milk. It can help to reduce blood sugar levels, impedes growth of new cancer cells, helps to manage cortisol levels (our stress hormone), reduces anxiety, increases muscle mass and overall strength, decreases inflammation, and promotes antioxidant activity to protect cells from oxidation and damage.8
But be cautious about the amount of ashwagandha you add — it has a potent and powerful taste that can easily overwhelm the subtler spices in the mix. Start by adding just a bit and work your way up, or add a little more sweetener of your choice to mask the flavor.
Why should you drink golden milk?
In case you’re not yet convinced, golden milk is beneficial for the body in a number of other ways.9
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels
- Inhibits platelet aggregation (sticking together)
- Suppresses symptoms of arthritis
- Protects against liver damage
- Enhances wound healing
- Protects against cataracts
- Helps with insomnia
Unlike with caffeinated beverages, there’s no ideal time to consume golden milk. Some people like to drink it before bed to promote relaxation and sleep, while others prefer to have it first thing in the morning for an energy boost (without the caffeine crash afterwards). Golden milk can also be a great mid-day pick-me-up if you find yourself in an energy slump.
If you haven’t tried golden milk before, you may be thinking that turmeric in a sweet beverage seems a little bizarre – it’s usually a spice you find in savory dishes. Not so fast, though. The combination of earthy, warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, and a bit of honey (or other sweetener) turns turmeric into a dessert-like treat.
There’s also no reason that kids can’t enjoy golden milk, too. If they enjoy the taste and want to reap all the benefits, encourage them to drink up!
So with all this talk of how great golden milk is for your health, how on earth do you make it? With a few simple ingredients, you’ll have the recipe down pat in no time. Here’s how:
5-Minute Vegan Golden Milk 10
1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk (canned is best)
1 1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp ashwagandha powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 pinch ground black pepper
Sweetener of choice, to taste (maple syrup, stevia, or honey, if not vegan)
- Combine coconut milk, almond milk, ground turmeric, ground ginger, cinnamon stick, coconut oil, black pepper, and sweetener of choice in a small saucepan.
- Whisk to combine and warm over medium heat. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling – about 4 minutes – whisking frequently.
- Turn off heat and taste to adjust flavor. Add more sweetener or spices, if desired.
- Serve immediately. Best when fresh, though leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat on the stovetop until hot.
Want to experiment? You can do more with golden milk than simply make a tea. Try these!
Golden Milk Gummies 11
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp. gelatin
1 cup milk of choice (cashew or almond works great)
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of ground black pepper
Pinch of cardamom
2 tbsp. raw honey
- Add water to a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Set aside.
- Add the milk and spices to a small saucepan over low-medium heat, whisking for about 4-5 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add the honey. Mix well.
- Slowly pour the milk into the bowl with the water and gelatin and whisk until the gelatin completely dissolves.
- Pour the mixture into a candy mold (silicon ones work well) and refrigerate until firm, about 3-4 hours.
- Store the gummies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Golden Milk Chia Pudding 12
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of black pepper
Sweetener of choice (maple syrup or honey)
6 tbsp. chia seeds (black or white)
- Combine all ingredients except chia seeds in a blender and process until smooth.
- Whisk in chia seeds and pour into glass jars.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Golden Milk Sleep Tonic 13
1/2 cup brewed chamomile tea, warm
1 cup almond milk, heated
2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. ashwagandha
2 tsp. virgin coconut oil
1/2” ginger knob, peeled and grated
2 black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom
Optional: 2 tsp. raw honey (or maple syrup for vegans)
- In a mortar, add the turmeric, cinnamon, grated ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, ashwagandha, peppercorns and coconut oil, and mix with a pestle to obtain a paste. Add one or two teaspoons of chamomile tea if necessary.
- Divide the paste into two mugs, and pour over hot almond milk and chamomile tea.
- Mix to combine and serve warm.
1 Plumb, L. (2017). Golden Milk - Recipe to Balance All Doshas. Retrieved from http://everydayayurveda.org/golden-milk/
2 Gunnars, K. (2018). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section10
3 Cording, J. (2017). The Top 10 Health Benefits Of Turmeric (Plus, How To Use It In Everything). Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/health-benefits-of-turmeric-how-to-use-it
4 Barrington, K. (2018). What's the Deal With Golden Milk? Retrieved from https://www.naturespath.com/en-ca/blog/whats-deal-golden-milk/
5 Leech, J. (2018). 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section11
6 Leech, J. (2017). 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#section12
7 Spritzler, F. (2016). Coconut Milk Health Benefits and Uses. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-milk#section4
8 Spritzler, F. (2018). 12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-ashwagandha-benefits#section1
9 Mercola. (2015). What Might You Gain By Drinking Golden Milk? Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/21/golden-milk.aspx
10 Easy Vegan Golden Milk. (2018). Retrieved from https://minimalistbaker.com/5-minute-vegan-golden-milk/
11 Thomas, A. (2015). Golden Milk Gummies. Retrieved from https://myheartbeets.com/golden-milk-gummies/
12 Heino, K. (2017). Golden Milk Chia Pudding. Retrieved from https://www.savorylotus.com/golden-milk-chia-pudding
13 A. (2017). Turmeric Golden Milk for a Better Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.theawesomegreen.com/turmeric-golden-milk-for-a-better-sleep/