By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 18th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The tasty flavors of Tex-Mex chili, Indian curry chicken or Italian pasta with fresh red sauce can certainly satisfy the taste buds. But research is now pointing to a range of health benefits from seasoning used in these savory dishes.

Many tangy spices and earthy herbs have known or suspected health benefits. Cumin, curry and cardamom have properties that may help prevent certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease and relieve indigestion. Some say throwing flavorful ingredients into the pot not only improves flavor, but also may kick your health up a notch. They cite garlic for clogged arteries, rosemary to prevent cataracts and sage to boost memory.

Most of these claims have not been put to scientifically rigorous tests. But a new study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism found that the bright orange spice turmeric [TWO-mer-ick] can effectively treat arthritis symptoms in animals. More than forty percent of arthritis sufferers in the U-S report using complementary and alternative medicine, including turmeric supplements, to treat their symptoms. So researchers tested the chemical composition of an experimental turmeric extract and found it prevented arthritis and significantly decreased joint destruction in laboratory animals? It did this by blocking a protein responsible for inflammation and it even altered the expression of genes involved in joint swelling and destruction.

Researchers say that before turmeric can be used medicinally, human clinical trials are needed. For now, while adding the spice might help your joints, at the very least it can improve your cuisine.