Weekly curry ‘may fight dementia’

The key ingredient appears to be tumeric

Eating a curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a US researcher suggests.

The key ingredient is curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, which appears to prevent the spread of amyloid protein plaques – thought to cause dementia – in the brain.

Professor Murali Doraiswamy, of Duke University in North Carolina, said there was evidence that people who eat a curry meal two or three times a week have a lower risk of dementia.

He said: “There is very solid evidence that curcumin binds to plaques, and basic research on animals engineered to produce human amyloid plaques has shown benefits.’

Professor Doraiswamy said a clinical trial was now underway at the University of California, Los Angeles, to test curcumin’s effects in Alzheimer’s patients. He said research had also examined turmeric’s therapeutic potential for treating conditions such as cancer and arthritis.

He stressed that eating a curry could not counter-balance the increased risk of dementia associated with a poor diet.

However, Rebecca Wood, of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, stressed that people would need to eat a lot of curry – over 100g of turmeric curry powder – to get a clinical dose of curcumin.

She said: ‘Professor Doraiswamy’s unpublished research applies only to animal models; his hypothesis has not been confirmed in human clinical trials. We look forward to the results of the human curcumin trial at UCLA.’

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