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Rodent of the Week: Diet Coke and curry?

May 22, 2009 |  5:36 pm

If your diet needs a little spice, try curcumin.

Rodent Tufts University nutritionists suspected the spice – a component of curry and turmeric – could disrupt the growth of fat tissue by cutting off the necessary blood supply. So they rounded up 18 mice to test their theory.

Six of the critters were fed a diet of 22% fat. Another six ate the same high-fat food but added a small dose of daily curcumin. The remaining six mice served as a control group, eating a mere 4% fat.

After 12 weeks, the spice-eating mice gained less weight and accumulated less body fat than their peers on the spice-free high-fat diet, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Nutrition. They also had healthier levels of blood glucose, triglycerides, fatty acids, cholesterol and liver fat.

The researchers, at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, found that the curcumin-eating mice did indeed grow fewer blood vessels in their fat tissue. They don’t know whether the results would be the same in humans, but they say it’s the next step in their research.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: Courtesy of Advanced Cell Technology Inc.