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Eat Curry, Lose Fat?

A new study performed on mice shows that the Curcumin (found in the spice turmeric) may cut body fat and weight gain.

The study showed that curcumin, the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow colour, may prevent or reduce body weight gain.

Mice fed a high-fat diet and supplemented with curcumin were found to have reduced body weight gain, as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.

The study attributed the suppression of angiogenesis as the mechanism by which curcumin works. “The curcumin suppression of angiogenesis in adipose tissue together with its effect on lipid metabolism in adipocytes (fat cells) may contribute to lower body fat and body weight gain,” wrote the authors, led by Asma Ejaz from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

If the study can be repeated in studies with humans, it could see curcumin added to the burgeoning weight loss and management market.

Study details

Ejaz and her co-workers performed in vitro and in vivo experiments. The effects of different doses of curcumin on the growth (differentiation) of 3T3-L1 fat cells (adipocytes) showed a suppression of differentiation and an increase in programmed cell death (apoptosis).

The in vivo experiments involved feeding mice a high-fat diet (22 per cent) and supplementing the animals with 500 mg of curcumin per kg of diet for 12 weeks. The pigment was found to reduce body weight gain and fat mass, without affecting the levels of food intake, wrote the researchers.

Note: In human terms, that amount to about 45 grams of curcumini per day, which is A LOT! But… perhaps the next step will be to identify the active ingredients in curcumin that are responsible for this effect.

Also of interest…. a reduction was noted in the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), one of a number of genes associated with angiogenesis (blood vessel formation that is necessary for the growth of fat tissue).

Curcumin was also associated with significantly lower cholesterol levels and a reduction in the expression of peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma), a protein that plays a role in metabolic functions.

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Volume 139, Pages 919-925, doi:10.3945/jn.108.100966
“Curcumin Inhibits Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and Angiogenesis and Obesity in C57/BL Mice”
Authors: A. Ejaz, D. Wu, P. Kwan, M. Meydani