Consumption of a certain form of curcumin – the spice that gives curry its bright colour – improves memory and mood.

Good news for lovers of Indian food: Daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin – the substance that gives curry its bright colour – improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss.

This is according to a study by University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA).

What is curcumin?

Found in turmeric, curcumin has previously been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in lab studies.

It has also been suggested as a possible reason that senior citizens in India, where curcumin is a dietary staple, have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive performance.

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Related: Curcumin may help fight Alzheimer’s disease

Putting curcumin to the test

“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,” says Dr Gary Small, the study’s first author.

For the study, 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 years with mild memory complaints were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months.

In memory tests, the people taking curcumin improved by 28 percent over the 18 months.

Those taking curcumin also had mild improvements in mood, and their brain PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus than those who took placebos.

The amygdala and hypothalamus are regions of the brain that control some memory and emotional functions.

“These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years,” says Dr Small.

Source: University of California – Los Angeles via www.sciencedaily.com

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