Turmeric latte (a.k.a. golden latte) is a beverage, usually served hot, similar to a regular latte but made from a powder than contains turmeric instead of coffee. Nowadays it’s available in most coffee shops and, because it’s popular with dairy avoiders, it’s often made with soy or nut milk.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant related to ginger (latin name Curcuma longa). It’s used in Asian and other traditional cuisines (in Perú we know it as “palillo” and use it in dishes such as cau cau). Curcumin (a polyphenol) is the main active ingredient in turmeric, is responsible for its yellow colour and comprises 3-6% of the components in the plant (1, 3).
The properties of curcumin have been investigated in many studies, most of them in animal models or in vitro (i.e. on petri dishes). Curcumin has been found to be anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial (1, 2, 3, 4), anticarcinogenic (1, 3, 4) and antidiabetic (2), among other characteristics. Thus, curcumin has been identified as a potential agent in the treatment of diabetes (1, 2), metabolic syndrome (4), inflammatory conditions (1, 4), skin diseases (1, 3), rheumatism (1), certain types of cancer (2, 3), arthritis (2), anti-immune diseases (2), neurological diseases such as Alzheimers Disease (2, 3).
Unfortunaly, curcumin is poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract (2, 3, 4), is not soluble in water (2, 3), has low bioavailability (2, 3, 4), and is quickly metabolised and eliminated (4). This has led to nanoformulations that can be easily absorbed by the body (1, 2, 3). Interestingly, turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic Indian and Chinese medicine (1, 3) as a curative agent with no need of nano anything. It has also been found that the bioavailability of curcumin is greatly enhanced by piperine, an active ingredient in black pepper (4).
What are the ingredients in turmeric latte blends?
Below are the ingredients lists in popular blends sold in Australia:
- Turmeric and Co Organic Golden Latte: Organic turmeric, organic Ceylon cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic black pepper.
- Nature’s Way Golden Milk: Turmeric powder (50%), coconut milk powder (44.5%), natural sweetener (stevia), xanthan gum, black pepper powder (0.1%), cardamom powder (0.05%), ginger powder (0.05%).
- Amazonia Golden Latte: Organic turmeric*, organic mesquite*, organic cinnamon*, organic clove*, organic ginger*, natural vanilla flavour, Himalayan pink salt, organic black pepper*. *Certified organic
- Macro Turmeric Latte: Turmeric powder (69%), ground spices (ginger, cinnamon, pepper), vanilla bean powder
- Nutra Organics Golden Latte: Coconut milk powder*, turmeric powder* (17%) (5% curcumin), manuka honey powder (15.5%), ginger powder*, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, vanilla bean powder*, cayenne pepper*, fine black pepper. *Certified organic
Note that all of the above contain black pepper to enhance the absorption of curcumin. Some brands also recommend using full-fat milk to prepare the beverage “for better texture”, although this might be more useful for making the curcumin soluble.
Is turmeric latte healthy?
It depends on the ingredients in the blend, what else goes in the latte (what kind of milk? what is in the milk? are you adding any sugar?) and your goals/health status. In general, if you are a healthy individual, a turmeric latte here and there won’t hurt anything else but your wallet. However, you shouldn’t take it as medicine.
As always, ask your doctor if you’d like to try a medicinal curcumin formulation to treat a particular health condition.
- Chattopadhyay I, et al. Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications. Current Science. 2004;87(1),44-53.
- Schaffer M, et al. An update on Curcuma as a functional food in the control of cancer and inflammation. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Nov;18(6):605-11.
- Amalraj A, et al. Biological activities of curcuminoids, other biomolecules from turmeric and their derivatives – A review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Jun 15;7(2):205-233.
- Hewlings SJ and Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017 Oct; 6(10): 92.