Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I HEART CURRY (and the brain benefits of Turmeric!)

It was brought to my attention while I was slaving in the kitchen cooking my first Curry, that “Turmeric is good for your brain”. Wow! I know science, doctors, surgeries, scans, tests and more tests could be helpful in fixing F’ed up brains, but could my little Curry recipe help as well?

As everyone knows (from my two blog posts which both happen to be cooking and recipe related- humm) I love to cook! I cook for Brian and I, but cooking for a crowd & entertaining is even more fun! Last week I decided to take the plunge into international waters and test of my first home made curry- from scratch I might add.

I will have to admit it was a little more involved that I had originally anticipated. Step One: Make the Curry Sauce, then add the other sauce ingredients & Turmeric, plus don’t forget to marinate the chicken tikka, (ooops). But in the end after making 3 different pages of recipes for one dish- it finally made it onto the plate at 9pm! (Thanks for your patience boys). I am proud to report; all of my dinner party guests were a part of the clean plate club . . . after their second helping of course.

Post dinner conversation, I was very intrigued on the health benefits of the Turmeric I had just added in my curry and why it was good for the brain. Can we include things in our diet to prevent future disease and promote brain health?

Turmeric derived from the plant Curcuma longa, is a gold colored culinary spice, a major ingredient in Indian curries, the source of American mustard's bright yellow color and a relative of ginger (I learn something new every day). Curcumin, which gives the yellow color to turmeric, was first isolated almost two centuries ago, and its structure as diferuloylmethane was determined in 1910. Since the time of 1900 BC, numerous therapeutic activities have been assigned to turmeric. Curcumin exhibits activities similar to recently discovered tumor necrosis factor blockers - which is just what we are looking for! Tumor Blockers for that puncus uncus! Evidence suggests this spice is a promising preventive agent for a wide range of diseases, probably due largely to its anti-inflammatory properties. After my little research session, the bottom line is that the advantages of turmeric (and more specifically Curcumin) are too numerous to list! An overview published in Advanced Experimental Medical Biology in 2007 states that, "Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and other chronic illnesses." That is the most “anti” ingredient I have ever used in my kitchen!

Looks like I will be making lots more Indian Curries in my lifetime. They promote “anti” everything! Did my little Curry recipe help us build better brain health? I think so.

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