Like many spices, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has a long history of use in traditional medicine. This flavor-filled spice is primarily cultivated from the rhizomes, or roots, of a flowering plant in India and other parts of Southeast Asia, and aside from giving curry its vibrant yellow color, turmeric is also known for having potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to a past review.
1.Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease
While research is still searching for what exactly causes Alzheimer’s disease, it seems as though the curcumin found in turmeric may help prevent it. Turmeric’s antioxidants prevent damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Even more importantly, some research shows that turmeric can reduce the synaptic marker loss and the accumulation of amyloids linked to Alzheimer’s development.
2.Curcumin has benefits against depression
Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression.
In a controlled trial, 60 people with depression were randomized into three groups. One group took Prozac, another group took 1 gram of curcumin, and the third group took both Prozac and curcumin.
After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements similar to those of Prozac. The group that took both Prozac and curcumin fared best.
According to this small study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.
Depression is also linked to reduced levels of BDNF and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory. Curcumin can help boost BDNF levels, potentially reversing some of these changes.
There’s also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
3. May Protect Against Heart Disease
A past study shows that curcumin may improve endothelial function, or the health of the thin membrane that covers the inside of the heart and blood vessels. This membrane plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. (6) Lower endothelial function is associated with aging and an increased risk of heart disease. Thus, curcumin may help protect against age-related loss of function and reduce your likelihood of developing heart disease.
4.Curcumin May Help Treat or Prevent Diabetes
According to a past review of studies, curcumin may help treat and prevent diabetes, as well as associated disorders like diabetic nephropathy (also called diabetic kidney disease), which affects people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. One drawback: Many of the studies have been done only in animals, not humans.
For example, one study found that feeding 80 mg of tetrahydrocurcumin (one of the main substances of curcumin) per kg body weight to rats with type 2 diabetes for 45 days led to a significant decrease in blood sugar, as well as an increase in plasma insulin.
Turmeric — and especially its most active compound, curcumin — have many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to improve heart health and prevent against Alzheimer’s and cancer.
It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
While these benefits are possible, they are limited at this time because of curcumin’s scarce bioavailability, and more research is needed.
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