Known as the ‘spice of life’ in India and Southeast Asia for centuries, turmeric, an essential ingredient in curry powder, is now being tested by western scientists as a possible preventative for Alzheimer’s disease.
The active component of turmeric is called curcumin, and it not only gives curry its rich yellow colour, but has also been shown to be a potent antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent. It may well be a reason why elderly folks in rural India have the lowest incidence of Alzheimers in the world, a correlation that is causing much interest among scientists.
Studies have shown that the antioxidant powers of curcumin chemically neutralise the destructive free radicals which are believed to play a major role in Alzheimers disease.
Enter the rodents (again)…
In a recent laboratory study at the University of Illinois, researchers found that curcumin from turmeric was very effective in protecting cultured rat cells from damage caused by beta-amyloid - a protein molecule that kills brain neurons and is a principal constituent of the senile plaques found in the brains of Alzheimers victims.
Powdered turmeric root
So, could chomping down on curry help us keep our brains from becoming mush? More test are underway, but in the mean time, it wouldn’t hurt to add some turmeric to your diet. It is known to be helpful in treating asthma, arthritis and a host of other ailments from ulcers to weight-loss.
…Also, nothing warms you up in this kind of weather like a nice big bowl of curry.