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Spice up your brain!

posted 8 May 2015, 03:46 by Tim Elliston   [ updated 2 Aug 2018, 08:07 ]
By JoAnn Bayus

Spices do a lot more than make our food tasty. They have endless health benefits as well. In fact, turmeric and cayenne pepper have been shown to benefit the brain.

Turmeric, a bright yellow spice that is often found in curries, has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are both beneficial to brain health. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, some researchers believe that the reason India has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world is due their high intake if turmeric.

A word of warning: although turmeric is considered safe when used in food, taking large amounts over long periods of time may cause stomach upset and ulcers. Turmeric supplements should not be taken if pregnant.

Cayenne pepper can add a boost to your brain as well. According to information presented in the book The Happiness Diet, cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaicin. The human brain contains receptors for capsaicin, resulting in the release of endorphins when it is consumed. In fact, eating spicy foods results in the release of the same endorphins as when we exercise.

So, spice it up! Turmeric can easily be adding it to soups, legumes, and other dishes. Cayenne can be used to add kick to any vegetable sauté. It is also wonderful sprinkled on Kale Chips, see the recipe pages.

Happy spicing!


“Nature Reviews Neuroscience”; Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function; Fernando Gomez-Pinilla; Vol. 9, 568- 578; July 2008

Tyler Gram & Drew Ramsey, MD. The Happiness DIET: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body. New York: Rodale, Inc. 2011.

Brain Research Institute UCLA: Turmeric

Turmeric Health Benefits: Have a Happy New Year With Turmeric

University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric

JoAnn Bayus