Curcumin Unclogs Your Arteries and Improves Blood Circulation
Can eating a curry be as good for your heart as exercise? Results of a clinical trial conducted in Japan suggest that curcumin, a popular spice used in curries, may be good for your blood vessels. Ok, so the subjects in the study were given curcumin dispersed with colloidal nanoparticles (you don’t see that on most Indian restaurant menus) but the principle is encouraging.
Curcumin is the name of the natural pigment found in the spice, turmeric, lending it a rich, orange color. The plant that owns the rhizomes from which the spice is harvested is a member of the ginger family. Curcumin has been working its way into the scientific spotlight over the past few years for its reported effectiveness in the fight against heart failure, prostate cancer, dementia, arthritis and diabetes. Some people are even calling it the new omega-3. It has well-established anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Following a recently reported clinical trial in Japan, it seems we may be able to add cardiovascular health to this list.
Evidence from clinical research
The health of your veins and arteries is measured by a technique called flow-mediated dilation (FMD). According to a paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, a 1% decrease in FMD translates to a 12% increase in risk of a future cardiovascular event1.
In the trial conducted at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, 32 women of post-menopausal age were assigned to one of three groups: a group of women placed on an aerobic exercise training program, a group taking 25 mg of curcumin supplements and a control group2. After eight weeks, the women in the control group had no change in FMD, while the women in both the exercise and curcumin groups experienced a 1.5% increase in FMD. The authors of the study concluded that curcumin ingestion and moderate aerobic exercise may improve the age-related deterioration in endothelial health and function.
What does this mean to you?
In case you are wondering where your endothelium is, it is a thin layer of cells lining the blood vessels and those of the lymphatic system. This is the part of the body that takes a battering when high blood pressure rams globules of fat and cholesterol into the blood vessel walls. The endothelium plays a role in maintaining vascular tone, fluid filtration, immune cell recruitment and hormone trafficking.
What this research means to you is that taking a potent curcumin supplement may improve the health of your blood vessels and lower your risk of heart disease.
1Ballard K.D., Kupchak B.R., Volk B.M., Mah E., Acute effects of ingestion of a novel whey-derived extract on vascular endothelial function in overweight, middle-aged men and women. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012
2Akazawa N., Choi Y., Miyaki A., Tanabe Y., Sugawara J., Ajisaka R., Maeda S. Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Nutrition Research. 2012