By Margarita Nahapetyan
If you are trying to lose weight, scientists would recommend you to eat lots of curry. According to the U.S. researchers, an extract of plant, used as a cooking spice - haldi, or turmeric - which is used in most of Indian dishes, has an active ingredient which could help fight an excessive weight.
The scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA), found that a meal that includes haldi will result in less gaining of weight than one with all the same ingredients apart from the yellow powder. This is because haldi contains a plant-based chemical called curcumin which appears to suppress the growth of fat tissue in mice and human cell cultures, researchers explain. And what is even more, the polyphenol is also easily absorbed by the body. In particular, turmeric is effective when added to a meal high in fat, suggesting that it could help fight obesity. It appears that the curcumin prevents the formation of new blood vessels which, in their turn, aid to expand fatty tissue which is the cause of weight gain.
"Weight gain is the result of the growth and expansion of fat tissue, which cannot happen unless new blood vessels form, a process known as angiogenesis," said a lead author of the study, Dr. Mohsen Meydani, DVM, PhD, director of the Vascular Biology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. "Based on our data, curcumin appears to suppress angiogenic activity in the fat tissue of mice fed high fat diets," the scientist added.
The findings are based on the laboratory tests which the investigators conducted involving mice. They split them into two groups and had one set of mice eat food high in fat for twelve weeks, and another set was given the same food except with 500 mg of curcumin added to each meal. Both groups ate the same amount of food. Three months later, the experts found that those mice which were fed curcumin, had less weight, compared to those which did not eat it.
Curcumin turned out to be responsible for total lower body fat in the mice group that received supplementation, said Dr. Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. In those mice whose food contained curcumin, the experts were able to observe a suppression of micro vessel density in fat tissue, which means that there was less growth of blood vessels and, therefore less expansion of fat. Researchers also found that these mice had lower levels of blood cholesterol and less fat in the liver. "In general, angiogenesis and an accumulation of lipids in fat cells contribute to fat tissue growth," Dr. Meydani explained.
Reporting their findings in the May 2009 edition of the Journal of Nutrition, the investigators wrote that there were similar results in cell cultures. In addition, curcumin appeared to interfere with expression of two genes, which caused the angiogenesis progression in both cell and rodent models.
However, Dr. Meydani said in the conclusion that it is important to note, that the scientists have not discovered yet whether these same results could also be replicated in people because, no studies have yet been conducted involving humans.