Source: New Paradigm
by Lori Alton
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘1 in every 4 deaths is directly linked to heart disease.’ No doubt, two main issues underlying this avoidable disease are chronic inflammation and excessive plaque buildup. Yet, the CDC has little written about the value of natural substances like, curcumin to help reduce the risk of chronic inflammation plus much more.
For example, a very interesting study reveals how curcumin, a polyphenol found in turmeric, can help slash the risks associated with cardiovascular disease such as, metabolic syndrome and inflammation. On top of that, a simple search on PubMed has well over 100 studies highlighting the importance of curcumin – as it relates to heart disease. But, the CDC only has 10 references! (doesn’t it make you wonder why the CDC data on curcumin is so small?)
Curcumin helps ward off life-threatening cardiac events in 3 amazing ways
Researchers have long known of curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects, and its ability to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage to cells and tissues. This power alone means that curcumin can help prevent heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.
Curcumin can also reduce risk of metabolic syndrome – a linked collection of unhealthy conditions including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and excess fats in the blood. Metabolic syndrome can set the stage for heart disease, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
But anti-inflammatory capacity is not curcumin’s only benefit. This versatile compound also improves cholesterol and lipid profiles.
In one study, supplementing with 1,000 mg a day of curcumin and biopene (a lycopene extract) caused significant reductions in harmful LDL cholesterol – while increasing levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
The curcumin and boipene also reduced trigylcerides, or fats in the blood, while limiting plaque formation in arteries.
Curcumin can also trigger reductions in unhealthy abdominal fat. Researchers believe that the polyphenol normalizes levels of adiponectin and leptin, a pair of signaling molecules that govern distribution of body fat.
Curcumin minimizes the dangerous impact of high blood sugar
High blood sugar damages the heart and blood vessels – causing people with diabetes to be two to three times more likely to die of heart disease than non-diabetics. Elevated blood sugar can even lead to diabetic cardiomyopathy – impairment in the function of the heart muscle, which can result in early heart failure and increased risk of heart attack.
By decreasing oxidative stress, curcumin prevents the glucose-induced death of heart muscle tissue – thereby decreasing cardiomyopathy risk.
Curcumin also prevents the body from producing advanced glycation end products – or AGEs – in response to high blood sugar. Formed when sugar molecules react with proteins, AGEs can cause stiffening, dysfunction and restricted flow in arteries.
Studies have shown that administering curcumin protects arterial health by drastically suppressing the production of AGEs.
Curcumin worked as well as exercise in enhancing arterial function
The endothelium, a layer of cells that lines blood vessels, plays a major role in arterial function – helping to govern blood vessel tone, clotting capabilities, and the general consistency and “stickiness” of blood cells.
Impaired endothelial function and damage to arteries can trigger atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart failure, insufficient blood flow and many forms of dementia.
The good news: in a study of healthy postmenopausal women, published in 2012 in Nutrition Research, even a modest dose of 150 mg a day of curcumin was found to be as effective as moderate aerobic exercise at improving endothelial function.
Researchers believe that curcumin achieved its effects by enhancing production of beneficial nitric oxide, causing vascular smooth muscle to relax and blood vessels to dilate.
In addition, researchers found that curcumin enhances blood flow and lowers blood pressure by suppressing the receptor for angiotensin, a chemical which stimulates contraction of arterial muscles. In fact, the blood pressure-lowering action of curcumin is similar to that of ACE inhibitors – a group of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat hypertension.
(Pretty impressive results for a natural compound derived from a common kitchen spice!)
New curcumin formulation features improved bioavailability
Extensive studies attest to the very real benefits of curcumin – but due to its low bioavailability, it has not always been practical or possible to get therapeutic amounts into the bloodstream by conventional oral means. In fact, many studies showing positive results have used injected curcumin.
Fortunately, with the help of “phytosome technology” – curcumin is absorbed at a much higher rate, without needing an injection. By the way, phytosomes are plant extracts bound to phospholipids (from sunflower oil, as an example – which are essential components of human cells. And, although the body does make phospholipids (such as phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine), phospholipids can also be obtained from food or nutritional supplements.
In terms of dosage, integrative healthcare providers may suggest 400 to 600 mg of curcumin – up to three times a day. For maximum benefit, you can take curcumin with bromelain, a digestive enzyme found in papaya and pineapple.
Naturally, before supplementing with curcumin, we suggest you get the go-ahead from a trusted physician. But, when it comes to preventing heart disease, research is demonstrating that natural substances like, curcumin can be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs without nasty side effects.
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