Your Turmeric Latte Might Be Giving You an Elephant Memory

A new study shows curcumin is pretty killer (in a good way) for your memory and mood.

By Ethan L. Johns
January 24, 2018

Image: GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Turmeric may look a bit like ginger (it belongs to the same botanical family), but on the inside it’s a vibrant orange-yellow. The compound that gives the rhizome—an essential ingredient in Indian curries and 2017-trendster cuisine—its yellow hue is called curcumin, and the health research continues to pile up in its favor, suggesting that this Ayurvedic cure may be more than just mysticism.

For a study published last week, researchers explored the effects of curcumin on older participants suffering from mild memory loss. In their findings, they revealed that, in addition to a boost in memory capability, curcumin also reduced reported levels of depression, showing an improvement in mood.

These results add to previously established research, which point to the substance’s potential antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

To reach their conclusion, the researchers responsible for the 18-month study divided up a group of 40 patients aged 51 to 84 into two randomized groups. The study participants had all expressed memory-related complaints, but none were suffering from dementia. One group took 90 milligrams of curcumin two times per day, while the other group was given a placebo.

Researchers discovered that the curcumin dosage resulted in a 28 percent average increase in memory function, while the placebo group displayed a brief rise and then a decrease. The subjects also showed improvement on a test for depression, while the control group stayed the same.

"These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years," said Gary W. Small to Science Daily. Small is the Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging at UCLA, and a lead researcher for the study.

Though the study may have been small, it is promising. And hey, turmeric is delicious, so what do you have to lose anyway? Get cookin’ with curcumin tonight with a turmer-rich Butter Chicken or an epicly trendy Golden Quinoa Bowl.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns