More and more, studies are showing that what you eat can help your mind and memory, from infancy to old age.

A Golden Opportunity

Point taken: eat fish for your brain and your heart. But what happens if you’re a vegetarian, have a seafood allergy or can’t afford to eat fish regularly? Or, like me, just don’t like fish? I’ve never quite gotten over my pregnancy-induced aversion to the stuff.

Perhaps I could cover the taste with curry powder and benefit from a seasoning that’s been coming into focus as a potential anti-Alzheimer’s agent, at least in animals: turmeric. Greg Cole at UCLA and his colleagues have reported that curcumin, a phytochemical in turmeric (which gives curry powder its yellow color) not only helps prevent the buildup of toxic A-beta protein in the brain, but it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for respiratory conditions (asthma, allergy), liver disorders, anorexia and cough, among other things, and throughout Asia it’s used to treat arthritis pain and other inflammatory conditions. Cole is in the middle of a clinical trial on curcumin, but an interesting observational study came out in 2006 from Singapore that found that healthy people aged 60 to 93 who ate curry “occasionally” (once a month) or “often or very often” scored better on cognitive tests than people who rarely ate it. It’s also quite interesting to note that Indian citizens in their seventies (whose diets are rich in curry) are four times less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease than American septuagenarians.

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner