Curry is the UK’s national dish – and has been ever since it overtook fish and chip sales over a decade ago. Last week, on the 20th National Curry Week, some of Thomson and Bancks’ Cheltenham office celebrated our love affair with South Asian cooking by tucking into a good old takeaway. While we were salivating over our dishes it got us thinking; is eating curry good for you?
It turns out the answer is yes! Curry powder is made up of numerous ingredients with significant health benefits. These ingredients include the super spice turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cumin, ginger and black pepper. Other curry ingredients such as fennel seeds, garlic, sweet basil, cinnamon or mustard seeds, also have individual health benefits.
In India the number of cases of Alzheimer’s are far fewer than many other countries, and it’s theorised that this might actually have something to do with the Turmeric in curry powder. Researchers have connected it to a reduction in the plaque that damages neural pathways of the brain. It also stimulates the immune system to eliminate the amino acids that make up this plaque, thereby reducing cognitive decline and the chances of Alzheimer’s disease.
Research has suggested that increasing the amount of turmeric in food, or even taking it in supplement form, reduces various cancerous growths and activities in the body. The most promising signs are in colon cancer.
Pain Relief and Inflammation
Once again, turmeric is an agent of positive health in terms of inflammation, pain and rheumatoid arthritis! The anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric have been shown to be comparable to ibuprofen as they actively decrease joint inflammation and deterioration, as well as associated pain of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Two of the ingredients commonly found in curry powder, cardamom and sweet basil, have been characterized as vasodilators. These affect the proteins in the body that reduce the tension in the blood vessels. Thus reducing blood pressure and the chances of many cardiovascular conditions, including atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
Turmeric is also being studied in terms of osteoporosis and bone health. Although human testing is still in its early stages, significant animal testing has shown turmeric to greatly increase the speed of bone regrowth, connectivity, and repair, while reducing signs of bone loss by up to 50%!
Another beneficial element found in the majority of curry powder throughout the world is coriander, which has a well-researched penchant for fighting bacterial infections, particularly E. coli. Eating a healthy amount of curry powder can increase the health of your digestive system and keep your immune system strong in its defence against bacterial agents.
Curcumin, the ‘magic’ component of turmeric, has been connected to the health of your liver. It inhibits the expression of certain genes that lead to inflammation, cancer and tumour growth. Although human testing is still in its infancy, animal testing has shown a healthy amount of curcumin to be a major boost against liver diseases and excess liver toxicity.
A Few Words of Warning
Unfortunately, Curry Powder also poses a few potential side effects. It is a well-known anti-coagulant, so if you already take blood thinners, you should consult with your doctor to eliminate any dangers of excessive bleeding. Some research has also shown curry powder to be an irritant to the gallbladder or to people with pre-existing gallbladder conditions because it stimulates gallbladder contractions. Although this may be good for people with healthy gallbladders, it can be very painful for those with gallstones or obstructed bile ducts.
Lucy Sherry, Solicitor-Advocate; Head of Medical Negligence specialises in medical negligence litigation, previously representing the NHS Litigation Authority and one of the GP Unions. Lucy now works with injured individuals and bereaved families to achieve compensation for adverse outcomes. Lucy has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge, regularly delivering medico-legal training to lawyers, attending many hours of medical lectures each year to keep abreast of changes in treatments, and gaining an insight into new health and medical findings to share with Thomson & Bancks’ clients and visitors to this blog.
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