So after I got done with Whole30, I moved straight on to reading Grain Brain by Neurologist Dr. Perlmutter. I’ve mentioned here before that my in-laws are on the Grain Brain train. Up until now, I have promoted eating real foods (i.e. avoiding processed foods when at all possible) but haven’t really made a conscious effort to be aware of what I put in my body. Whole30 helped with that. A lot. And now I’m making an effort to not only eat real foods and avoid certain types of foods (processed, a lot of dairy, soy, legumes (to an extent) and grain/gluten), but I’m also trying to make a conscious effort to incorporate some ingredients and supplements I’ve never used before. One of those ingredients being turmeric. Here’s a snippet from Dr. Perlmutter’s website that explains it much more clearly than I can:
Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is known as the seasoning that gives curry powder its yellow color, but it has recently developed a reputation, thanks to intense scientific research, as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric, has beneficial effects for a variety of diseases and conditions. It’s curcumin that gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In a recent report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers investigated the association between curry consumption level and cognitive function in elderly Asians. Those who consumed curry “occasionally” and “often or very often” had significantly better scores on specific tests designed to measure cognitive function than did subjects who “never or rarely” consumed curry. The results of this study are not surprising given the strong association of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia with inflammation and the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.
But the relationship of turmeric to brain health, and specifically to Alzheimer’s, goes much deeper. One of the important elements of Alzheimer’s disease is the finding of elevated amounts of amyloid protein, which may be a highly damaging protein, in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Indeed, amyloid is considered one of the hallmarks of this disease. New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research has shown that curcumin actually inhibits the formation of amyloid protein. So promising were these findings that the author of the study concluded that curcumin “could be a key molecule for the development of therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease.” To be sure, much research indicates that amyloid protein in and of itself may actually be the brain’s response to inflammation or infection and thus turmeric may work its magic by acting to reduce inflammation or even viral infection.
On top of the benefits of turmeric, eating fish more often is considered to be one of the easiest ways you can improve your brain (and overall!) health. Another excerpt from Dr. Permutter’s website:
Morris and colleagues report data from a remarkable prospective study of Alzheimer disease (AD) in a biracial community in Chicago, Ill (815 people, aged 65-94 years). They found that subjects who ate fish once a week or more had a 60% lower risk for developing AD than those who consumed fish less frequently. The data were statistically adjusted to correct for the effects of age, sex, ethnicity, education, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, apolipoprotein E (apo E) genotype, total caloric intake, and consumption of other fats or vitamin E. Intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and docosahexaenoic acid (omega-3) was associated with a reduced risk of developing AD over the 4 years of the study. Intake of α-linolenic acid or eicosapentaenpoic acid was not associated with disease after adjustment. Intake of α-linolenic acid, found in vegetable oils and nuts, was protective only in people with the apoE ϵ4 allele, and total n-3 fatty acid intake was protective only in women. These data and other work in the area suggest that consumption of PUFAs found in fish, vegetable oils, and nuts may reduce AD risk.
Therefore, I’ve been trying to cook with turmeric more (and by more, cooking with it at all is more than I used to!) and trying to consciously eat fish at least once per week. Even if you don’t ever read Grain Brain, and don’t care about what health benefits turmeric or fish oil may offer, if you like spicy, blackened fish, I highly recommend you make this recipe anyway.
I came up with this turmeric blackened fish recipe on a whim a couple of weeks ago, and although I shared it on Instagram, I thought I would also share it here so I could include it in my archives. It’s simple, DELICIOUS and Wheat’s already asked for it again.
Turmeric Blackened Fish Recipe
– one fish fillet per person (we used red snapper)
– turmeric powder
– Chinese Five Spice
– ground red pepper (could substitute cayenne)
– kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
– high heat cooking oil of your choice (extra light olive oil or coconut oil preferred)
Rinse and pat dry fish fillets. Season all sides of the fish fillets with all the seasonings (equal amounts of each, maybe a bit light on the red pepper).
Heat enough oil in a cast iron skillet (or heavy frying pan) to medium high heat, or until oil is shimmering. Gently place seasoned fillets in the oil with a bit of space between each filet. Allow to cook until the fillets easily release from the bottom of the pan with a pair of tongs. When they do, flip them and allow to cook until the other side releases easily from the bottom of the pan. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and serve immediately.
Cook’s Note: If you don’t get the oil hot enough, the spice won’t develop that crispy, blackened crust. It will still be delicious – just not very crispy!
And see those carrots back there behind the fish? They were da bomb.com and I’m coming back to share that simple little recipe, too! Does anyone have any favorite recipes that include turmeric or curry for me to try? Please share them!