Researchers from the Duke University in North Carolina led by Professor Murali Doraiswamy, have revealed that eating curry at least once weekly may reduce the onset and spread of dementia.
The key ingredient in curry is turmeric, according to the researchers. It contains a substance called curcumin, which is useful in disbanding amyloid protein plaques in the brain, which are responsible for dementia.
"There is very solid evidence that curcumin binds to plaques, and basic research on animals engineered to produce human amyloid plaques has shown benefits," Professor Doraiswamy told delegates at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' annual meeting.
"You can modify a mouse so that at about 12 months its brain is riddled with plaques," he added. "The next step is to test curcumin on human amyloid plaque formation using newer brain scans and there are plans for that."
Dr Susanne Sorensen of the Alzheimer's Society said the findings made sense as Indian communities that regularly eat curcumin have a surprisingly low incidence of Alzheimer's disease.
However the Duke researchers cautioned that eating curry would have to be accompanied by a good diet as well. "If you have a good diet and take plenty of exercise, eating curry regularly could help prevent dementia," Professor Doraiswamy concluded.