Turmeric, a spice integral to Indian cooking, is known for its anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Now, research shows that it may even help fight infertility. A team of researchers at Gujarat University has found that curcumin, the principal constituent of turmeric, is capable of ameliorating infertility caused by aflatoxins, a family of plant toxins. Many aflatoxins are known to affect sperm count and its motility. The scientists, led by Ramtej Jayram Verma of the department of zoology and biomedical technology, orally fed olive oil spiked with aflatoxin to two groups of male albino mice, one with curcumin and the other without. While the animals whose diet included curcumin had sperm with improved morphological characteristics, the other group showed a marked reduction in sperm quality. The findings are reported in the December 2007 issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility. We are, however, yet to ascertain the mechanism behind the curcumin effect, says Verma.
Food for diabetics
The Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore has received a US patent for an innovative hypoglycemic food formulation that can help diabetics. The preparation contains cereals other than rice, legumes, small proportions of milk solids and vegetable fats rich in essential fatty acids. Also thrown in are condiments such as fenugreek and natural herbal ingredients with insulin sensitising properties. The cereals are scoured to have the outermost fibrous layer removed, whereas the legumes are used in the form of gram. The cereals, legumes and spices are mildly toasted to improve their sensory attributes and blended suitably with other ingredients to prepare a ready-to-cook product. While the protein content of the preparation is 14 per cent, that of dietary fibre is 18 per cent. The formulation can be used as a dietary supplement or as a meal substitute for diabetics.