Curcumin Boosts Brain Power

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Want to start your day right? Add turmeric to your breakfast. Turmeric is a spice that's commonly used in Indian dishes.

Not only can it perk up your meal, but it may also stimulate your brain due to an antioxidant it contains called curcumin.

A recent study found that turmeric enhanced memory in adults. The results were published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Turmeric Boosts Memory for Six Hours

People aged 60 and older were recruited for the study. They were given a bland breakfast consisting of white bread along with a placebo, 2 grams of cinnamon, 1 gram of turmeric, or a combination of the latter two. All were diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition which could ultimately increase the risk for dementia and memory-related problems.

Working memory (also called short-term memory) was assessed before the meal and several hours afterwards.

The researchers found the turmeric group experienced greater benefits in working memory compared to the other groups, with results lasting up to six hours.1

This isn't the first study to show a memory-boosting effect for turmeric. Previous studies also show encouraging results.

Curcumin May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Of the many bioactive compounds in turmeric, curcumin, the antioxidant responsible for its rich-yellow color, has caught the attention of scientists.

Laboratory, animal, as well as human studies show curcumin targets different factors implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, curcumin has been shown to destabilize the formation of amyloid beta plaque, an abnormal brain protein found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.2

It also chelates heavy metals, reduces oxidative stress, and lowers inflammation in the brain — all factors which could potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.3,4

Not to mention, curcumin may help the brain form new memories. It stimulates neurogenesis (the formation of new nerve cells) in an area of the brain called the hippocampus where memories are stored.5

For all of these reasons, it makes sense to incorporate turmeric into your meals, especially if you’re interested in maintaining a healthy memory. For added benefit, curcumin supplements are also available.

The Bottom Line

Consider working turmeric into your diet or taking a quality curcumin supplement. Not sure where to start? Here’s a recipe courtesy of Cooking Light. Turmeric has a subtle flavor which goes well with just about every meal. Enjoy!

Recipe: Omelet with Turmeric, Tomato, and Onions

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 green onions
  • finely chopped 1/4 cup diced plum tomato
  • dash of black pepper
Preparation:

  1. Whisk together eggs and salt.
  2. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and turmeric; cook 30 seconds or until seeds pop, stirring frequently. Add onions; cook 30 seconds or until soft, stirring frequently. Add tomato; cook 1 minute or until very soft, stirring frequently.
  3. Pour egg mixture into pan; spread evenly. Cook until edges begin to set (about 2 minutes). Slide front edge of spatula between edge of omelet and pan. Gently lift edge of omelet, tilting pan to allow some uncooked egg mixture to come in contact with pan. Repeat procedure on the opposite edge. Continue cooking until center is just set (about 2 minutes). Loosen omelet with a spatula, and fold in half. Carefully slide omelet onto a platter. Cut omelet in half, and sprinkle with black pepper.

References:

  1. Available at: http://www.airitilibrary.com/Publication/alDetailedMesh?DocID=09647058-201303-PP201303130005-PP201303130005-1-11-0079. Accessed November 21, 2014. 
  2. J Phys Chem B. 2012 Jun 28;116(25):7428-35. 
  3. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan-Mar; 11(1): 13–19. 
  4. Mol Ther. 2011 Oct;19(10):1769-79. 
  5. Brain Res. 2007 Aug 8;1162:9-18.

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