Spice up your brainpower with turmeric! That is the advice to take from a new clinical trial that has found that consuming even a modest dose of this highly anti-inflammatory spice improved “working memory.” For this placebo-controlled trial, researchers fed one group of elderly subjects recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes a breakfast that contained one gram of turmeric and a control group the same breakfast, but without the added turmeric. All study subjects had their working memory tested before breakfast and for a few hours thereafter. Those fed breakfast with added turmeric had measurable and significant improvements in their working memory in the hours after consuming breakfast.
The researchers specifically conducted the study in pre-diabetics because diabetes is a known risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia. Turmeric, along with curry spice, owes its deep yellow hues to a compound called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the “active ingredient” responsible for the growing evidence touting turmeric and curry for brain health. In the lab, curcumin has become a wonder compound exhibiting all sorts of fantastic feats, particularly for stifling inflammation. Knowing that inflammation is the “universal brain destructor,” it is not surprising that turmeric is rapidly emerging as a superstar spice for brain health. (Asia Pac J Clin Nutr., 2014;23 DOI: 10.6133/apjcn.2014.23.4.24)
So give it a shake or two in your rice, poultry, and bean dishes, or add it to your favorite salad dressings.