Indian food has complex, rich, and sometimes spicy flavors. Indian cuisine has evolved through the years with flavors from other countries like ancient Greece, the Middle East, and Persia. Although loved by many, Indian food is not only tasty but packed with many nutrients that offer health benefits! Let's take a look at one of the most classic ingredients used in Indian food, curry, and how it can be healthy for you and your family.
Curry Health Benefits
One of the most widely known ingredients in Indian food is curry. It's made of spices like curry leaves, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili pepper, ginger, fennel, muster seeds, fenugreek, and more. Because it's filled with so many spices, it can offer a handful of health benefits.
A study showed that curry can improve blood flow and blood vessel function. Ultimately, this can lead to a decrease in risk for heart disease. Additionally, a separate study showed people who consumed curry two or three times a month had a lower triglyceride level than those who consumed curry once a month. It was also found that ingredients like turmeric could reduce cholesterol level. But, these results were from taking supplements, not the normal amount in everyday food.
Antioxidants are important because they help prevent damage to cells from free radicals. Without proper antioxidants, it can lead to chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, or even a decline in mental health. Consuming antioxidants can decrease the risk of these diseases.
Some antioxidants found in curry include quercetin, lutein, pinene, curcumin, cuminal, and zeaxanthin. A study showed that people who ingested up to 12 grams of curry powder had reduced levels of allantoin, which is a marker for oxidative stress (having too many free radicals in the system).
Ingredients in curry like chili pepper, turmeric, and coriander offer anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, the main turmeric spice, is great for its ability to reduce inflammation. Curcumin is also being studied as an ingredient to help fight cancer. Tumeric has been studied and shown to help reduce symptoms from inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
Chili peppers contain capsaicin which is an anti-inflammatory. It has been studied and shown its ability to help treat diabetic neuropathy, arthritis, cardiac excitability, and gastric lesions.
Coriander has been used in traditional medicine since ancient times. Modern research has shown that in animals, it treats inflammatory bowel disease. But, there is not enough human research that can concretely show it has the same effect.
Curcumin (in turmeric) has cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that curcumin stops cancer spreading and kills existing cancer cells. Test-tube and animal research showed it could help fight brain, breast, colon, and prostate cancer. There is also some promising research involving humans that had similar results. In a study where participants consumed 1,080 mg of curcumin for 30 days, it showed an increase in the death of cancer cells and reduced inflammation.
Blood Sugar and Weight
Studies conducted also showed that consuming curry helped to reduce blood sugar levels significantly as well as increase the feeling of being full. Keeping blood sugar levels low is extremely important to decrease the risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes. A study where participants consumed up to 12 grams of curry resulted in a reduced desire to eat, meaning that consuming curry can help to eat less and reduce calorie intake.
Add Curry To Your Diet
Knowing all the ways that curry can benefit your health, you might be wondering how you can integrate it better into your diet. Here are some of our favorite recipes with curry.
- Chicken Curry Recipe
- Curried Shrimp and Rice Recipe
- Ginger Curry Pork and Rice Recipe
- Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
- Chicken Masala
- Shrimp Korma
Indian food can offer great health benefits for you and your family as it has ingredients that are antioxidants, cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatories, as well as being heart-healthy. Many studies on animals and humans show that consuming curry, specifically the ingredients in which it is made, can be extremely beneficial. The most important thing to note is that these benefits correlate to curry specifically and don't speak to how the dish is prepared. As long as it's a clean recipe and does not have excessive fat, sugar, or sodium content, your Indian dishes can be healthy options for your family.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Elena Veselova/Shutterstock.com.