London, England - A US scientist claims that eating curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Professor Murali Doraiswamy, of Duke University in North Carolina, presented a paper at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' annual meeting in London suggesting that the spice turmeric could play a key role in lowering the risk of dementia.
Curcumin, a component of turmeric, appears to prevent the spread of amyloid protein plaques - thought to cause dementia - in the brain, says the researcher, adding that people who eat curry two or three times a week appear to have a lower risk of dementia.
"There is very solid evidence that curcumin binds to plaques, and basic research on animals engineered to produce human amyloid plaques has shown benefits," said Doraiswamy.
"You can modify a mouse so that at about 12 months its brain is riddled with plaques. If you then feed it a curcumin-rich diet it dissolves these plaques. The same diet prevented younger mice from forming new plaques. The next step is to test [the effects of] curcumin on humans using brain scans."
Clinical trials on Alzheimer's patients are currently underway at the University of California, Los Angeles, to test curcumin's effects.
Research in 2006 suggested that the curcumin present in turmeric could also be of benefit to arthritis sufferers.