Curcumin May Have Lipid-Lowering Effects
Curcumin has become a popular topic recently. Known for its many health benefits, including anti-nausea effects, antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory effects, anti-diabetic properties, and improved lipid parameters.
It is quite the world-renowned spice. Easily identifiable by its bright yellow texture it can be easily added to many different types of meals. It can be added to smoothies for breakfast, endless stir-fry options for lunch, and even used as an important ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine.
FUN TIP: I add curcumin in my bi-weekly clay mask with apple cider vinegar for its anti-inflammatory properties.
This herb is definitely a must-have staple in any kitchen. If the information above did not convince you to start trying this sexy-little spice to all things nice, do you by any chance have high cholesterol or know someone who might? In one study, test subjects were randomly assigned to take a placebo or 650 mg of curcumin extract 3x/day for 12-weeks.
A significant improvement in blood lipid values in the curcumin extract group was found. The triglyceride, T-Chol, LDL-C, non-HDL-C, and T-Chol/HDL-C ratio levels were significantly decreased only in the curcumin extract group between baseline and at 12 weeks (Yang et al., 2014).
Pretty cool, right?
At this point, you might be thinking, this is all fine and dandy but what is HDL-C? LDL-C?
I will explain.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is deemed your, "healthy cholesterol". When these values are high for a person this has a cardio-protective effect because it helps to pick up 'bad cholesterol'.
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is considered by many to be the 'bad cholesterol'. This type of cholesterol is not necessarily bad but high levels of it may be detrimental to your health. It is when there are such high levels of LDL-C that they can turn into their oxidized form. This form can be dangerous to the body and macrophages (think PacMan) eat them up to try and protect the body. These oxidized LDL-C + macrophages are now termed - foam cells.
Ever heard of the phrase, "too much of anything is a poison"? Well, that idiom applies here as well. When LDL-C is oxidized, just as it says, an oxygen molecule attaches to it and eventually gets eaten up by a macrophage. What was an oxidized LDL-C macrophage called again? Right! A foam cell. These foam cells may eventually accumulate in the tunica intima (inner layer) of blood vessels. This accumulation is what we call atherosclerosis. An early sign of this that you may be familiar with is "fatty streaks". Enough pathophysiology for you? It's enough for me!
In conclusion, turmeric (specifically, it's main active component - curcumin) may help to lower cholesterol levels in adults and increase 'good' cholesterol. In addition to curcumins other documented health effects with very low - to no adverse effects it may be beneficial to add turmeric and curcumin to your diet!
Yours in health,
Yang, Y., Su, Y., Yang, H., Lee, Y., Chou, J., and Ueng, K. (2014). Lipid-Lowering Effects of Curcumin in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research. 28: 1770-1777.
**Ideas presented here are solely those of the authors and the author discourages adding or eliminating a component of your diet or lifestyle without first talking to your primary care physician or other trained healthcare professional.