When it comes to keeping the mind strong and healthy, many of us turn to exercise or mindfulness practices. But did you know that simple spices can have a powerful impact on your brain, too? Turmeric – a common spice that gives curry its iconic yellow color – can boost memory and relieve depression.

Turmeric has been used in Asian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. But it’s only in recent history that scientists have been able to understand exactly why this yellow spice has so many significant health benefits.

This study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, in October 2017, adds to the growing body of research identifying turmeric as an important spice for mental wellbeing.

The study observed 40 individuals between the age of 50 and 90, all of whom were healthy except for minor memory issues. Each participant took curcumin over the course of 18 months, and their memory improved by 28 percent.

But why did they take curcumin? Aren’t we talking about turmeric? Curcumin is the powerful compound within turmeric, and it’s this compound that gives turmeric is potent health benefits. There are several reasons for this.

Let’s first consider memory loss. Earlier studies have drawn a connection between the development of Alzheimer’s disease with a build-up of protein in areas of the brain linked to memory. This most recent study found the curcumin can actually cause less protein plaque to accumulate in the brain.

Furthermore, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties can also boost memory and relieve depression since both of these conditions are linked to inflammation.