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Curry powder is a mixture of spices with a bright golden hue and a complex flavor.
It can be made with a variety of spices, usually including turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and chili pepper. Other common additions are ginger, black pepper, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and fennel seeds.
Curry powder may offer a variety of health benefits due to the numerous healthful spices it contains.
Here are 9 impressive health benefits of curry powder.
1. Potent anti-inflammatory properties
Being that curry powder is packed with spices like turmeric, coriander, and chili pepper, it’s no wonder that this seasoning has been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits (
Turmeric, one of the main spices in the blend, contains a pigment called curcumin. Curcumin is well known for its ability to fight inflammation by regulating inflammatory proteins, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) (
In fact, both human and animal research have shown turmeric and isolated curcumin to relieve symptoms of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease (
Other spices commonly found in curry powder, including chili pepper and coriander, offer anti-inflammatory effects as well.
Chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin that acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory force (
Coriander has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent in traditional medicine practices since ancient times, and research in rodents suggests that treatment with this spice may reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (
Still, more studies are needed to confirm this effect in humans.
Curry powder contains a variety of anti-inflammatory spices, including turmeric, coriander, and chili powder.
2. May improve heart health
Consuming curry powder may benefit heart health in several ways. For example, research has demonstrated that the spice mix may boost blood flow and improve blood vessel function, which in turn may decrease heart disease risk.
A small study in 14 men showed that eating 6.3 ounces (180 grams) of a meal containing curry powder improved blood flow in the brachial artery — the main supply of blood to the arm — compared with a control meal. This was attributed to curry’s high antioxidant content (
Another study in over 100,000 people found that those who consumed curry-powder-based dishes 2–3 times per month to once a week had significantly lower triglyceride levels compared with people who consumed curry less than once a month (
Additionally, studies in humans have found that supplementing with turmeric and curcumin may reduce cholesterol levels in humans, though these results were from high-dose supplements exceeding the amounts typically found in food seasoned with curry powder (
Because high blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels are risk factors for heart disease, eating curry powder may help improve heart health.
However, further research on how curry powder may positively affect heart health and lower heart disease risk factors is needed.
Consuming curry powder may benefit heart health by reducing heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and triglyceride levels and by improving blood flow.
3. May have anticancer effects
Curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, is known to have potent cancer-fighting properties. It induces cancer cell death and inhibits the spread of cancer cells by suppressing specific signaling pathways in the body (
According to animal and test-tube research, curcumin may fight various cancers, including those of the prostate, breast, colon, and brain (
Human studies have also had promising results. For example, a study in 126 people with colorectal cancer showed that supplementing with 1,080 mg of curcumin per day for 30 days increased cancer cell death and decreased inflammation (
Although current research on the anticancer effects of curry powder is promising, more studies in humans are needed.
Some research suggests that curry powder may have powerful anticancer properties, but more studies are needed.
4. Contains powerful antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent cell damage caused by reactive molecules known as free radicals.
Too many free radicals in your body can lead to oxidative stress, a condition associated with chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and mental decline. Eating antioxidant-rich foods can decrease the effects of oxidative stress and reduce your disease risk (
One small study in 17 men demonstrated that eating meals containing 6–12 grams of curry powder significantly reduced allantoin — a marker of oxidative stress — compared with eating non-curry-containing meals (
Therefore, adding antioxidant-rich curry powder to meals may help reduce oxidative stress and disease risk.
Some research suggests that consuming curry powder may help reduce oxidative stress, thus lowering disease risk.
5–9. Other benefits
In addition to the potential benefits listed above, consuming this flavorful spice blend may improve health in the following ways.
- May help lower blood sugar levels. A study in over 100,000 people showed that those who consumed moderate amounts of curry had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who ate curry less than once a month (
- May improve brain health. Human and animal research has demonstrated that curcumin, the main compound in turmeric, may significantly improve markers of mental decline and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (
- May improve feelings of fullness. In one study, men who ate meals containing 6 or 12 grams of curry powder reported significantly reduced hunger and desire to eat, compared with those who consumed a control meal (
- Antifungal and antibacterial properties. Curry powder contains coriander and cumin, two spices that test-tube studies have shown to have antifungal and antibacterial effects (
- May boost digestive health. Studies in rodents have found that curcumin may help your digestive system function properly and relieve symptoms of digestive disorders, though more human research is needed (
27, 28, 29).
Keep in mind that these benefits are mostly related to individual components of curry powder and not the spice blend itself. More research involving the use of curry powder to boost health is needed.
Consuming curry powder may boost brain and digestive health, improve feelings of fullness, lower blood sugar levels, and provide antibacterial effects. However, more research in humans is needed to confirm these potential benefits.
How to add curry powder to your diet
Because curry powder is a blend of spices, it can be used to flavor numerous dishes.
Curry powder has a unique, warm flavor that can take on both sweet and savory notes depending on the exact blend of spices used by the manufacturer.
Remember that there is no one set curry powder recipe and that the spices used may vary. Some versions can be spicy from the use of hot peppers, while others are mild.
Once you find a curry powder that pleases your taste buds, try adding it to dishes like marinades, potato salads, roasts, stews, and soups. In fact, this versatile spice blend can be used to season anything from vegetables to eggs, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Keep in mind that because curry powder usually contains turmeric, it will give a golden hue to your recipes.
Curry powder is versatile and can be added to a number of dishes like soups, meat recipes, and stews.
The bottom line
The combination of spices found in curry powder makes this seasoning a great way to add flavor and nutritional benefits to your dishes.
The spice blend is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and consuming it may help reduce oxidative stress, boost heart health, and improve blood sugar levels, among other potential benefits.
The best part is that curry powder makes an excellent addition to a wide array of recipes. Try adding it to your favorite dish for a healthful kick of flavor and color.
Though curry powder is widely available in supermarkets, you can also find a wide selection of products online.