Background: Curry, one of the most popular foods in Japan, contains spices that are rich in potentially antioxidative compounds, such as curcumin and eugenol. Oxidative stress is thought to impair endothelial function associated with atherosclerosis, a leading cause of cardiovascular events. The aim of this study was to determine whether a single consumption of curry meal would improve endothelial function in healthy men.
Methods: Fourteen healthy male subjects (BMI 23.7 +/- 2.7 kg/m2; age 45 +/- 9 years) were given a single serving of curry meal or spice-free control meal (180 g of curry or control and 200 g of cooked rice; approximately 500 kcal in total) in a randomized, controlled crossover design. Before and 1 hr after the consumption, fasting and postprandial flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) responses and other parameters were measured.
Results: The consumption of the control meal decreased FMD from 5.8 +/- 2.4% to 5.1 +/- 2.3% (P = 0.039). On the other hand, the consumption of the curry meal increased FMD from 5.2 +/- 2.5% to 6.6 +/- 2.0% (P = 0.001), and the postprandial FMD after the curry meal was higher than that after the control meal (P = 0.002). Presence of spices in the curry did not alter significantly the systemic and forearm hemodynamics, or any biochemical parameters including oxidative stress markers measured.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the consumption of curry ameliorates postprandial endothelial function in healthy male subjects and may be beneficial for improving cardiovascular health.
Alex’s Notes: This small study comes to us from researchers in Japan looking at the effects of curry on endothelial function. Although it originated in India, curry is consumed worldwide and made with a good amount of meat, vegetables, and abundant spices. Already sounds like a winner, I know. Anyways, accumulating evidence supports the notion that blood vessel dysfunction plays a large role in the development of heart disease, and several studies have demonstrated protective effects of spices such as turmeric and clove on blood vessel walls. So what better way to spend money then to fund a study on one of Japan’s favorite foods?
The participants were 14 healthy middle-aged males with no history of hypertension, diabetes, or dyslipidemia. They were randomized into a curry or control group and given a single serving of a test meal after a 12-hour fast, had some measurements done, and then returned a week later to repeat the procedure with the other test meal. The meals were 200g of cooked white rice (this is a Japanese study after all) supplemented with either 180g of a control or curry sauce. Both sauces were made of ground beef, tomato, and some seasonings, with the curry also including various spices (clove, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, onion, red pepper, and turmeric).
The only effect the curry meal had was an increase in flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD; a measure of blood vessel function), while the control reduced it. The magnitude of the effect was not great, but it was statistically significant. The researchers speculate that
“The presence of spice antioxidants in the curry would have prevented the increase in the oxidative stress induced by postprandial serum glucose increase, but the change in the oxidative stress parameters after our test meal was too small to be detected, because the postprandial serum glucose level after our test meals (113 mg/dL after control or 117 mg/dL after curry) was much lower than that normally encountered after 75-g oral glucose loading.”
So there you have it, eat some curry with your rice for a small benefit… or just throw the spices on the rice; your choice.