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Tze-Pin Ng and colleagues at the National University of Singapore have discovered that curry eating seems to boost brain power in elderly people.
Curcumin, a constituent of turmeric, is an antioxidant, and reports have suggested that it inhibits the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in people with Alzheimer's. Ng's team looked at the curry-eating habits of 1010 Asian people unaffected by Alzheimer's and aged between 60 and 93.
Researchers compared their performance in a standard test of cognitive function, the Mini Mental State Examination. The results indicated that those who consumed curry "occasionally" (once or more in 6 months but less than once a month) and "often or very often" (more than once a month) had significantly better mental performance scores than did subjects who "never or rarely" consumed curry.
The study authors calculated that curcumin consumption could reduce the risk of developing dementia by 49 percent in people who consume it “often or very often.” Consuming curcumin “occasionally” could lead to a 38 percent reduced risk, the researchers concluded. According to the researchers, “These findings present the first epidemiological evidence supporting a link between curry consumption and cognitive performance that was suggested by a large number of earlier experimental evidence.”
Ng TP, Chiam PC, Lee T, Chua HC, Lim L, Kua EH. Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 1;164(9):898-906.