Just one gram of turmeric added to the breakfast meal could help improve memory of people at early stages of diabetes or at risk of cognitive impairment, a new study has indicated.
The finding has particular significance given that the world's ageing population means a rising incidence of conditions that predispose people to diabetes, which in turn is connected to dementia.
Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist, from the Monash Asia Institute at Monash University, said that early intervention could help to reduce the burden, whether by halting the disease or reducing its impact.
Working memory is widely thought to be one of the most important mental faculties, critical for cognitive abilities such as planning, problem solving and reasoning and assessment of working memory is simple and convenient, but it is also very useful in the appraisal of cognition and in predicting future impairment and dementia, he further added.
The research found that this modest addition to breakfast improved working memory over six hours in older people with pre-diabetes.
Turmeric is widely used in cooking, particularly in Asia. Its characteristic yellow colour is due to curcumin, which accounts for 3 to 6 per cent of turmeric and has been shown by experimental studies to reduce the risk of dementia.
The study is published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.