Anti-inflammatory benefits of a curry spice

BY SANDRA GUY

You’ve probably heard of Turmeric — a yellow-orange spice that’s a relative of ginger — but what can it really do?

This curry spice has been used as a remedy for centuries, and it’s found in Indian, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking.

Its main ingredient, curcumin, is a naturally occurring antioxidant known as a polyphenol. Polyphenols are found in plants with anti-inflammatory properties.

Research has shown that mice fed a curcumin-based diet for 16 weeks showed a 26 percent drop in fatty deposits in their arteries compared with mice fed no curcumin. Other studies have shown that curcumin can provide benefits that help protect against atherosclerosis, heart failure and cardiac complications related to diabetes.

Of course, one ingredient is never a magic potion or silver bullet. It’s one’s personal responsibility to exercise, eat a proper diet and get regular health and dental checkups. After all, Turmeric contains only 3 percent curcumin, and curcumin isn’t easily absorbed. So check with your doctor before taking supplements.

How does Turmeric work? Research shows it may improve the function of blood vessels’ linings. If so, that could help regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and other heart-health indicators.

It also is believed to decrease inflammation, which can ignite any number of problems, ranging from arthritis to obesity to atherosclerosis.

To give Turmeric a try, you can find it among spices in the grocery store, or as a supplement powder and in teas, extracts, capsules and tablets. Many of the supplements contain black pepper, which enhances absorption. If you decide to buy liquid Turmeric, which is available online, take care because it easily stains anything it touches, including glassware.

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