There may be a new way to spice up your weight loss routine,
according to results from a new animal model study by Agricultural
Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists and colleagues.
The researchers theorized that dietary curcumin could stall
the spread of fat-tissue by inhibiting new blood vessel growth,
called angiogenesis, which is necessary to build fat tissue.
Curcumin is a bioactive component in curry and turmeric that
has been consumed daily in Asian countries for centuries without
reported toxic effects.
The study was led by nutritionist Mohsen Meydani at the Jean
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA)
at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. Meydani is director of
the HNRCA's Vascular Biology Laboratory.
Eighteen mice were assigned to three groups of six mice each.
For 12 weeks, the mice were fed special diets. A “control”
group’s mix contained 4 percent fat, a “high fat”
group’s mix contained 22 percent fat, and another group
was fed the same “high fat” diet supplemented
with curcumin. A mouse typically eats about 3,000 to 3,500
milligrams (the weight of about six or seven paper clips)
daily, so the curcumin-supplemented mice would have consumed
about 1.5 to 1.75 milligrams of curcumin daily—a relatively
The researchers recorded the body weight and food consumption
of the mice twice each week. At the end of the 12-week period,
their total body weight and fat distribution were measured.
The study found that supplementing the animals’ high-fat
diet with curcumin reduced body-weight gain and total body
fat, even though food-intake was not affected, when compared
to the nonsupplemented high-fat-diet group.
The curcumin-treated group also had less blood vessel growth
in fat tissue. Blood glucose, triglyceride, fatty acid, cholesterol
and liver fat levels also were lower.
At this time, it is not known whether the amount of curcumin
normally present in food dishes prepared with turmeric is
sufficient to inhibit complex fat-tissue secretions that are
involved in recruiting new blood vessel growth. The researchers’
next step is to determine the effectiveness of dietary intake
of curcumin in reducing weight in humans.