A powerful compound found in the spice turmeric could boost memory and even ease depression, according to new research.
The US study showed that the compound curcumin can help to prevent protein build-up in parts of the brain that are linked to emotions and memory.
Scientists from the University of California say the bright yellow compound has anti-inflammatory properties that could see memory improve by up to 30 per cent.
]Inflammation in regions of the brain has previously been associated with depression and dementia.
Long favoured as a herbal remedy for conditions such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease, curcumin in turmeric – often consumed in powder form – could also help with brain function.
Dr Gary Small from the University of California, LA, said: “These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.”
Published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the study tested 40 people aged between 50 and 90 taking either a placebo or 90mg of curcumin twice a day in the easily-absorbed supplement Theracurmin.
After 18 months, researchers looked at the effects on well-being including heart rhythms and thyroid function and 75 per cent of the group underwent a brain scan. It was found that the group who’d absorbed the compound had a 28 per cent boost to their memory.
Dr Small said: ‘These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.’