Lovers of Indian food, give yourselves a second helping: Daily consumption of a certain form of curcumin — the substance that gives Indian curry its bright color — improved memory and mood in people with mild, age-related memory loss.
Found in turmeric, curcumin has previously been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in lab studies. It also has 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.
The people who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities against those who did not take it. 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 several memory and emotional functions.
Four people taking curcumin, and two taking placebos, experienced mild side effects such as abdominal pain and nausea.
These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.