Can Tumeric Reduce Obesity?

Tumeric may reduce obesity by slowing the growth of fat tissue, according to a new research study from the USDA.

Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University have discovered that curcumin, an organic molecule found in turmeric, appears to slow down the growth of fat tissue in mice. And turmeric is one of the spices that give curry and other South Asian foods their distinctive aromas and flavor.

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The study, which can be found in the May issue of The Journal of Nutrition, centers on two test populations of mice that were each fed high fat diets for three months. One group was served food spiked with 500 mg of curcumin per kilo of chow. The other group of mice just got the chow – no curcumin. Both groups gained weight as the experiment progressed, but even though neither group showed any increase in appetite, the mice whose food had been supplemented with curcumin gained much less weight than the mice that didn’t get the supplement.

The researchers noted that the growth of microvessels – tiny veins and arteries – was much slower in the mice exposed to curcumin than in those mice who weren’t. Since microvessel growth in fat tissues is directly related to their level of spread, the researchers concluded that the curcumin was keeping the mice thin by reducing the growth of microvessels.

The “spiced” mice also had lower blood cholesterol levels and less fat in their livers than did their non-spiced peers.

Even so, the scientists involved in this study note that randomized, clinical trials involving humans are needed to confirm the connection between curcumin and its effect on fat tissue.