Curry powder is more of a generic term for a blend of different spices. It can have more spices added to the mixture.
Most recipes and producers of curry powder usually include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper in their blends.
Turmeric extracts, one of curry spices have long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
Curcimins, the yellow pigment in turmeric, is known for having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Research has suggested inflammation plays an important role in the development of a range of diseases, including heart disease, and curcumins could have an effect on those pathways, said Bharat Aggarwal, who studies the use of curcumins in cancer therapy at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
The researchers studied 121 patients who had non-emergency bypass surgery at their hospital between 2009 and 2011.
Half of those patients were given one-gram curcumin capsules to take four times a day, starting three days before their surgery and continuing for five days afterwards. The other half took the same number of drug-free placebo capsules.
The researchers found that during their post-bypass hospital stays, 13 per cent of patients who’d been taking curcumins had a heart attack, compared to 30 per cent in the placebo group.
After accounting for any initial pre-surgery differences, Wongcharoen and his colleagues calculated that people on curcumins had a 65 per cent lower chance of heart attack.
Researchers said it’s likely that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumins may have helped limit heart damage in the patients.
‘Curcumin has for many years now been shown to reduce inflammation and to reduce oxygen toxicity or damage caused by free radicals in a number of experimental settings,’ commented Jawahar Mehta, a cardiologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
‘But that doesn’t mean that this is a substitute for medication,’ he said, noting that drugs like aspirin, statins and beta blockers have been proven to help heart patients and people in the current study were taking those as well.
The study was published in the American Journal of Cardiology.