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Turmeric, the root that gives many curries their intense colour, contains curcumin, a compound that research is finding has a number of highly beneficial properties. Here are four you should know about.
1. Boosting immunity
There’s a growing body of research suggesting that turmeric’s curcumin augments the body's immunity. It increases a protein in our blood that fights invading bacteria and viruses. The response is similar to one you would see from vitamin D, suspect researchers.
2. Protecting brain health
Researchers believe the curry spice may help slow or prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease. Studies have even shown improved brain function in Alzheimer’s patients taking curcumin. Antioxidants that soothe inflammation could be the key to these benefits. While anti-inflammatory medications are known to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, curcumin may one day play a similar role, without the side-effects of some of those drugs.
3. Reducing cancer risk
Some small studies have shown that curcumin may stop precancerous changes in the body from developing into breast and bowel cancers. Research has also shown that there are low rates of certain types of cancers in countries where people routinely eat 100 to 200 milligrams of curcumin a day.
4. Preventing heart disease
Turmeric is among a group of spices (including ginger and cinnamon) that researchers are investigating as tools in the fight against heart disease. It’s thought that antioxidants in these spices can reduce fats called triglycerides in the blood after eating a high-fat meal.
Many curry powders contain turmeric; if you make your own, be sure to add the yellow spice to your mix. And try turmeric in dishes such as curried potato salad and quick vegetable curry.
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