Monday, January 29, 2007

You Gotta Love Tuberous Spices

If you read this blog much, you can readily detect my obsession with exotic foods. If you know me in person, the evidence is plain to see.

One of my favorite foods is Indian food. No, not fry bread, as in Native American Indians, I'm talking the sort from India. It's so freakin' spicy it's like a party in my mouth. So many of the dishes feature spices you simply can't find in your neighborhood diner (yes, old-fashioned diners still exist here and there). My favorite Indian dishes are vindaloos. Vindaloo is a type of curry, with lamb or chicken and a yummy, spicy marinade sauce.

It turns out that my usually horrible eating habits may not be so horrible, in this case. According to an article in February's _Scientific American_, turmeric, a spice used in curries, has a number of potentially beneficial health effects:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=131CED4F-E7F2-99DF-3C84BB412D1D3B51

You've got to love a spice made from ground-up roots. Turmeric (which is yellow-brown colored) is what is used to colorize yellow mustard and chicken broth, but its main use is as a spice in curries. Sometimes it is used as a cheap replacement for saffron. For thousands of years ancient Indian (Vedic) medicine has used it as an anti-inflammatory agent. For the last couple decades, though, modern medicine has increasingly studied it, focusing mainly on a constituent of turmeric called curcumin. It may help fight rheumatoid arthritis as an anti-inflammatory, battle Alzheimer's plaques, block hormones tied to colon cancer, reduce the size and number of colorectal polyps, and improve cognitive ability. Cool. One of my favorite foods may help my horrible, horrible memory, fight off a family history of arthritis, and prevent butt cancer.

As far as fighting cancer though (including colon cancer, myeloid leukemia, and breast cancer), researchers have found some negative effects, too, where it has stopped the mechanisms that prevent cancer. So my colon can't leap for joy just yet.

2 comments:

Maggie said...

Mmm, curry.

Anonymous said...

How bad would your memory be if you did not already eat curry? Random-Fact-History-Man?