Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spice Up Your Diet and Your Memory

This month marks the first anniversary of my father’s passing, and I miss him terribly. One of the contributing factors to his death was Alzheimer’s disease, so I take note of anything I read relating to memory and health. I recently came upon an article in the Arizona Republic (October 13, 2010) about four spices and their potential to improve memory.

The first is turmeric, widely used in India which has one of the lowest incidents of Alzheimer’s in the world. Turmeric is found in curry and is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It gets stronger when cooked, so don’t overdo it.

Another promising spice is one of my favorites, rosemary. Also an antioxidant, rosemary protects neurotransmitters in the brain and may not only help prevent Alzheimer’s but also enhance memory. Try adding it to lamb, pork, veal, and chicken. I like to add it to tomato sauce.

Sage is another spice highlighted in the article. Commonly used in stuffing, you can also place whole sage leaves under the skin of poultry before roasting. It is believed to support cognitive function in healthy people as well as those suffering from serious memory loss. Another benefit to note is that studies suggest it helps the mind stay alert and calm – sounds great for those taking exams!

Finally, we have cumin, another strong spice used in Indian cooking. Commonly used in chilis and curries, it helps speed recovery from amnesia and improve memory. Try toasting the whole seeds to enhance the flavor and then adding them to kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to use as a coating for pork tenderloin before baking.

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