May 19, 2009

Tumeric extract may suppress fat growth

An extract of a plant used as a cooking spice -- turmeric -- suppressed fat tissue in mice, U.S. researchers said.

The study, published in Journal of Nutrition, found a type of plant chemical known as a polyphenol found in the spice turmeric -- called curcumin -- appears to reduce weight gain in mice, lower their blood cholesterol levels and lower their levels of liver fat. Most significantly, curcumin suppressed the growth of fat tissue in mice as well as in cell models.

Weight gain is the result of the growth and expansion of fat tissue, which cannot happen unless new blood vessels form, a process known as angiogenesis, senior study author Mohsen Meydani of the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston said in a statement.

Based on our data, curcumin appears to suppress angiogenic activity in the fat tissue of mice fed high fat diets.

The researchers compared mice fed high fat diets 12 weeks supplemented with curcumin to controls not given curcumin. They also studied cell cultures incubated with curcumin.

Meydani said it is not yet known whether the results can be replicated in humans.