10 Golden Milk Benefits That Just Might Make You Give Up Your Morning Cup of Coffee
By Emma Singer
Published Sep 26, 2022
Golden milk has long been a popular choice on the other side of the globe, and now the Western wellness community has caught on and can’t get enough of the eye-catching yellow beverage. So, what kind of strange alchemy goes into the making of golden milk—also known as turmeric milk—and is it really even good for you? Keep reading for the full scoop on golden milk benefits, courtesy of Sarah Steele, registered dietitian nutritionist and metabolic success coach for Signos. (Spoiler: The science says golden milk does the body good.)
What Is Golden Milk?
Golden milk is a brightly colored and oh-so creamy drink originating in India, where it’s touted for its Ayurvedic medicinal properties. The beverage, which can be enjoyed hot or cold, boasts a tantalizing blend of traditional spices, several of which have scientifically backed health benefits, all mixed into a milky base (either cow’s milk or a plant-based alternative). What kind of benefits, you ask? Keep reading to find out.
Golden Milk Health Benefits
1. It Can Help Reduce Inflammation
A powerful trio of spices with known antioxidant properties—ginger, cinnamon and turmeric—are among the key ingredients in golden milk. In fact, a 2017 study published in Foods demonstrated that curcumin, the active component in turmeric, is particularly effective at preventing and managing a wide-range of oxidative and inflammatory conditions. Even more impressive is a 1999 study from Phytotherapy Research that found that the anti-inflammatory action of curcumin rivals that of pharmaceutical drugs recommended for the same purpose.
While ginger and cinnamon don’t elicit quite the same degree of excitement from the scientific and medical community, scientific studies (including this one published in Natural Product Communications and this one published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) have shown that they, too, have powerful antioxidant properties and therapeutic potential.
2. It May Improve Mood
More research needs to be done but preliminary studies, including this randomized, controlled trial published in Phytotherapy Research, show that turmeric helps with depression. We’re not saying golden milk is a magic cure for the blues (and you should definitely consult a professional if you’re experiencing the symptoms of clinical depression), however drinking golden milk on the regular might just give you a little extra pep in your step (and it certainly can’t hurt).
3. It Could Aid in Digestion
Turmeric gets the lion’s share of the credit for many of the health benefits associated with golden milk, but now it’s ginger’s turn to shine. That’s right—ginger is a key ingredient in golden milk that has long been hailed as an antidote to a wide range of digestive woes. “Ginger is known to be a powerful antiemetic that can help treat nausea and vomiting,” confirms Steele.
What’s more, this 2011 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that ginger relieves other symptoms of indigestion (i.e., dyspepsia) by speeding up gastric emptying. Bottom line: If you’re suffering from a minor stomach upset (and you’re not lactose intolerant), a glass of golden milk might be just what the doctor ordered.
4. It Supports a Strong Immune System
Golden milk has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a cold remedy, and it turns out there’s something to it. Indeed, studies have shown that curcumin possesses antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties—you can find a review of the research here—which means it very well may prevent you from coming down with a pesky bug.
5. It May Reduce Elevated Blood Sugar
Steele also explains that, although more research is needed, existing studies point to the positive effects that turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon can have on fasting glucose levels when taken daily. And, in case you missed it, golden milk is the tasty beverage that contains all three.
6. It Helps with Sleep Quality and Anxiety Reduction
Folks who suffer from anxiety and/or struggle with poor sleep (i.e., a significant percentage of the adult population) might want to consider incorporating golden milk into their bedtime routine. Research published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, acts on serotonin levels in the brain to improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
7. It May Boast Some Anti-Aging Benefits
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, curcumin can kind of do it all. Check out this 2015 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, which shows that the widely studied polyphenolic compound in turmeric can help with cell damage repair—and that, friends, is a recipe for aging gracefully.
8. It Could Improve Brain Function
That’s right, golden milk might even protect against cognitive decline, and once again it all comes down to—you guessed it—curcumin. A 2015 clinical trial published in Neuropeptides found that curcumin increased serum BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in women. Low levels of BDNF have been closely linked to brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease so, yeah, the research is pretty exciting.
9. It May Protect Against Heart Disease
The aforementioned power trio of spices (ginger, cinnamon and turmeric) have also been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease. A 2013 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine concluded that “the consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglyceride levels, and an increase in HDL-C levels,” which is very good news for cardiovascular health.
Similarly, a 2015 study conducted on people with Type 2 Diabetes found that the group who took a ginger powder supplement experienced a considerable decrease in several risk factors for heart disease.
As for turmeric, the results of a 2012 study from the Journal of American Cardiology found that the ingestion of a curcumin supplement significantly reduced the risk of heart attack in patients who were recently recovering from heart surgery.
10. It Can Help to Strengthen Bones
While the most impressive health benefits of golden milk can be attributed to the spice blend it contains, it’s worth noting that the deliciously creamy base of this health-boosting concoction is pretty darn good for you, too. Indeed, cow’s milk (along with many plant-based milks) provide a significant amount of calcium and vitamin D—two essential nutrients that are widely known to support bone health and reduce the risk of bone-related diseases like osteoporosis.
How to Make Golden Milk at Home
Now that you know the myriad ways in which golden milk can improve your overall health, you’re probably eager to start drinking the stuff down on a daily basis. Good news: We got the nutritionist’s very own recipe for golden milk, and it couldn’t be easier to make.
- 2 cups of milk (cow’s milk or milk of choice—Steele like full fat coconut)
- 1 ½ tsp of ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger (or can use grated fresh ginger)
- Pinch of black pepper
- Pinch of cardamom
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- Sweetener of choice to taste (Steele uses ½ tsp monk fruit)
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan
- Simmer the mixture over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.
- Remove from the stove and serve hot or cold.
Can You Drink Golden Milk Every Day?
The curcumin in golden milk is seriously potent stuff…and you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Still, it’s perfectly safe—recommended, even—to drink a single serving of turmeric milk every day. Limit yourself to that, though, ‘cause if you gulp down too much of the stuff, WebMD says it’s liable to upset your stomach (the opposite of what it’s intended to do) and can even trigger allergies.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Drink Golden Milk?
In truth, there’s no wrong time to drink golden milk. After all, the spices it contains will work their health-boosting magic at any hour. That said, according to The Times of India, this traditional drink is typically enjoyed around bedtime—namely because that’s when you’re most likely to profit from its soothing properties (see, health benefit number six).
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Consuming turmeric regularly can help reduce inflammation in the body and significantly reduce symptoms of already-present inflammatory conditions. Curcumin has also been linked to improved brain health and memory.
Regularly drinking turmeric milk can increase antioxidants in your body which fight cell damage and reduce oxidative stress on the body. This is essential to build a healthy immune response in case of infection or disease.
Everyone can benefit from the anti-inflammatory and high-antioxidant activity of golden milk. It's a wonderful addition to your evening ritual for winding down before bedtime. You can drink it any time of day, but I find it to be especially nice before bed.