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In a day and age where people identify heart disease prevention strategies with consuming what are essentally toxic chemicals like aspirin and statin drugs, it is refreshing to see clinical research being done on the powerfully cardioprotective properties of time-tested and much safer spices.
A compelling new study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism has found that a daily dose of a novel form of turmeric extract (curcumin) significantly improved the functional state of the blood vessels of healthy adults within two months.
The randomized, controlled, double-blind parallel prospective study involved fifty-nine healthy adults who were assigned to either a placebo, 50 mg (50 mg), or 200 mg (200 mg) curcumin, for 8 weeks.
The study provided background on what is believed to be a primary underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, namely, the inability of the inner lining of blood vessels (endothelium) to dilate fully as a consequence of mostly symptomless damage that can start early in life:
“Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are often asymptomatic and can begin as early as childhood . A putative mechanism leading to CVD is damage to the vascular endothelium, a monolayer of cells which releases antiatherosclerotic molecules, most notably including nitric oxide . Endothelial function can be measured as a decreased flow-mediated dilation (FMD) response, using occlusion of the brachial artery and the subsequent dilation response as an indicator of vascular function [1, 3]. Lifestyle behaviours which enhance antioxidative status and preserve nitric oxide bioavailability may protect against endothelial dysfunction [4–6].”
The 200 mg curcumin intervention resulted in what was determined to be a "clinically substantial" 3.0% increase in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of healthy blood vessel function. Even the much lower, 50 mg dose of curcumin resulted in a 1.7% increase in FMD, though it was determined to be of lower clinical relevance, i.e. “not clinically decisive.”
The authors summarized their findings:
“In apparently healthy adults, 8 weeks of 200 mg oral curcumin supplementation resulted in a clinically meaningful improvement in endothelial function as measured by FMD. Oral curcumin supplementation may present a simple lifestyle strategy for decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.”
Clearly, addressing and ameliorating an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, such as the inability of the arteries to dilate fully (endothelial dysfunction), makes far greater sense than simply thinning the blood with aspirin or Warfarin to help it pass through narrower and increasingly clogged arterial space. In the latter approach, the underlying disease continues forward unabated, but now with the additional risks associated with the use of semi- or fully synthetic drugs whose side effects are often deadlier than the condition they treat. To learn more about the dangers of aspirin and other "blood-thinners" like anticoagulant drugs click on the hyperlinks for those terms.
While noteworthy, this is not the first study to demonstrate the value of turmeric extract (curcumin) in producing healthier blood vessel functioning. In a previous report on the role of a turmeric-based spice combination (“curry”), titled “Curry Dilates Arteries With One Serving,” a single serving of curry was shown to dilate the arteries (increase FMD). You can also view over 40 studies from the GreenMedInfo turmeric database on its cardioprotective properties.
Nor is turmeric extract the only food-based approach to addressing and even reversing cardiovascular disease. For instance, we have reported on avocado's ability to neutralize the artery constricting properties of a single, hamburger meal. Also, pomegranate's ability to reverse plaque build up in the arteries is also well documented and highly compelling. The point is that simple dietary interventions using time-tested, culinary spices, can have powerful impacts on disease risk, health and well-bing.
There is also a vast body of published literature in existence, a good portion of which can now be found on the GreenMedInfo.com database, that turmeric has literally hundreds of health benefits.
Finally, you can view the following related database sections on Greenmedinfo.com to better asceratain what supplements and foods have been found to have cardiovascular disease protective and reversing properties: