New research published in an American journal shows that turmeric improves memory and happiness, giving significant boosts to both and also might lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
We’ve talked before about the health benefits of turmeric and about how you can incorporate it into your cooking. And not a second too soon, because there are new reasons to have turmeric in your meals every day. This fine, golden dust is considered a superfood and it is thought to have anti-cancer properties thanks to the compound it’s rich in - curcumin. Apparently, most of the turmeric’s benefits come from the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin.
The research came out in January, in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and was conducted by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA); the scientists found that turmeric improves memory and helps people who consume it have better cognitive performance.
The UCLA research team set out to find the effects of using turmeric in food for people with mild, age-related memory loss.
“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer's disease and major depression,” said Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA's Longevity Center and author of the study.
Reasons turmeric improves memory
Because turmeric is an ingredient widely used in India, the lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease found there lead researchers to believe that there is a correlation between this marvelous ingredient and superior cognitive performance.
The study looked at 40 participants, aged between 50 and 90 years old. What they all had in common were the mild memory complaints. Half of these people received 90 milligrams of curcumin twice a day, for a time frame of 18 months. The other half got a placebo.
The researchers at UCLA monitored the curcumin levels in the blood of all of the participants and then performed cognitive assessments and PET scans on them. The study found that those who got curcumin reaped the benefits. And that the substance found in turmeric improves memory and boosts mood levels.
In memory tests, people that took curcumin improved by 28 percent over the 18-month window, while their overall disposition also improved.
A larger study, to follow
Of course, the study was done only on 40 people. But encouraged by these results, the UCLA scientists want to start a larger study, to check the results.
“These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years,” Dr. Gary Small concluded. His team will examine possible variations on the effects according to age or the genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. They also want to study the potential of curcumin to alleviate mild depression.
If you’re feeling like you’re intrigued and want to give turmeric a try, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s simple enough to include it in your diet. You can very well add it to rice, sprinkle some in your egg dishes – like omelets, frittatas, or scrambled eggs. You can make tea with it and add some honey and milk to it for a delicious drink. Don’t be afraid to try some in your coffee or on your roasted vegetables. It works in cream soups and also in smoothies. So yeah, turmeric improves memory and mood, so it’s time you try it, too!