The study: Curcumin extract, found in the spice turmeric, may help prevent Type 2 diabetes. In a double-blind placebo study, 240 people with pre-diabetes (a precursor to full-blown diabetes) were randomly assigned to take curcumin tablets or a placebo for nine months. At the end of the study, 16.4 percent of participants in the placebo group were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, while none in the curcumin group developed the disease.
Taking curcumin improved the function of beta cells, which are found in the pancreas and release insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, beta cells weaken gradually. Researchers believe that curcumin may have protected those beta cells from damage, since it has anti-inflammatory properties.
What we already know: Turmeric has been used in Asian and Indian medicine (and in dishes such as curry) for years, and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for being a good source of antioxidants. A previous study found that the spice extract may help prevent heart attacks in people who have recently undergone bypass surgery. Curcumin was found in another study to temporarily slow pancreatic cancer growth.
What it means for you: This study, published recently in the journal Diabetes Cares, adds to the growing evidence that curcumin could have health benefits. However, taking turmeric as a supplement may interfere with other medications and could affect certain conditions. Check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
Do you purposely eat foods with turmeric because of the health benefits? Let us know in the comments.
Related Stories on TakePart:
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal, and has gotten in a boxing ring. Email Jeannine | TakePart.com