A key ingredient of curry could help those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, according to research published yesterday.
A team from the University of California found evidence that a chemical in the spice turmeric supports the immune system in its fight against the degenerative disease.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Milan Fiala of and colleagues said that the chemical bisdemethoxycurcumin "boosted immune cells called macrophages".
These immune cells clear the protein amyloid beta, which kills the brain cells of Alzheimer's patients.
A 2001 study suggested a link between curcumin, the main compound found in tumeric, and reduced plaque build-up.
The team built on this study, aiming to determine the "precise factor" responsible.
They pinpointed bisdemethoxycurcumin as the direct source.
However, the researchers emphasised that it may not be possible to eat the amount of curcumin required to have an effect.
Tumeric is found in all curries, from kormas to vindaloos.
Studies have shown that rates of Alzheimer's among the elderly are much lower in India than Britain.