Extracts from the rhyzome of Curcuma longa are widely used as food additives in India and other Asiatic and Central American countries. It has been shown that these extracts (“turmeric”), as well as “curcumin” and related phenolic compounds isolated from Curcuma, have a powerful antioxidant action when tested in in vitro systems. Moreover, previous research from our laboratories has shown significant decreases in the levels of lipid peroxides in the blood of both mice and human subjects administered “turmeric.” Our present research complements the previous data, showing that a daily intake of turmeric equivalent to 20 mg of the phenolic antioxidant curcumin for 60 days decreases the high levels of peroxidation of both the HDL and the LDL, in vivo, in 30 healthy volunteers ranging in age from 40 to 90 years. The effect was quite striking in the persons with high baseline values of peroxidized compounds in these lipoproteins, while no apparent change took place in the persons having low baseline values.
In view of current concepts on the atherogenic role played by peroxidized HDL, and especially by peroxidized LDL, as inducers of foam and smooth cell proliferation in the arterial wall, this preliminary experiment suggests that the Curcuma phenolic antioxidants, because of their high antioxidant activity and lack of toxicity, might be a useful complement to standard hypo-lipidemic drugs in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.
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Ramirez Bosca, A., Carrión Gutierrez, M.A., Soler, A. et al. Effects of the antioxidant turmeric on lipoprotein peroxides: Implications for the prevention of atherosclerosis. AGE 20, 165–168 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-997-0015-z