Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

A Well-Seasoned Mind

New scientific research shows these five spices are good for your brain.

by: Daniel G. Amen, M.D. | from: The Magazine | May/June 2010 issue

Five spices to make you smarter:

Turmeric

In India, where people eat curry almost every day, the Alzheimer’s disease rate is one-fourth the U.S. rate. Now researchers think they may know why. A University of California, Los Angeles study in mice showed that curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric, which gives curry that distinctive yellow color—broke up brain plaques of amyloid beta, the abnormal protein buildup that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Healthy way to dish it up:
For a brain-boosting chicken salad, toss 2 teaspoons curry powder with 2 cups cubed chicken. Sauté in olive oil until cooked, then cool. Add raisins, diced apples, chopped almonds, chopped celery, and low-fat yogurt, to taste.

Saffron

Got a case of the blues? Before popping an anti-depressant, try eating more of this pungent herb. A 2007 University of Tehran study discovered that a twice-daily dose of saffron works as well as Prozac in treating mild to moderate depression. 

Healthy way to dish it up:
Add 1/2 teaspoon saffron to the water while cooking 2 cups rice.

Ginger

A recent study found that more than 80 percent of migraine-prone patients with mild headaches who were treated with a combination of ginger and the herb feverfew staved off migraines. After two hours, 48 percent were pain free; for another 34 percent, the pain stayed mild. “If a headache doesn’t go to full-blown migraine, that’s success,” says Roger Cady, M.D., study author and director of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri.

Healthy way to dish it up:
Stir 3 teaspoons grated ginger into 1 cup boiling water; steep for 10 minutes, strain, and drink.

Garlic

Long touted for its heart-healthy benefits, garlic may also fight brain cancer. A 2007 study in the journal Cancer noted that garlic compounds eliminated brain-cancer cells, leading some experts to predict that garlic-based treatments for brain cancer aren’t far behind.

Healthy way to dish it up:
Mix 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic with tomatoes and basil for a cancer-fighting marinara.

Cinnamon

If you want to react faster during your next tennis game, chew cinnamon gum. Doing so, a recent study found, speeds the rate at which your brain processes visual cues. One reason the gum may help: cinnamon regulates blood-sugar levels, and this helps you stay focused.

Healthy way to dish it up:
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon cinnamon on oatmeal for a brain-healthy breakfast.

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