Author(s): Hossam M M Arafa
Background: Curcumin (a component of turmeric) has long been used as aspice and food-coloring agent. In experimental animals, curcumin has shown anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory,cytotoxic and anti-oxidant properties. Material/Methods: The possible hypolipidemic effect of curcuminwas investigated in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD). The lipid profile and activities of aspartateaminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were assessed in serum, as well as anti-oxidantparameters in liver tissues. Results: Feeding the animals a high cholesterol diet (HCD) for 7 consecutivedays (1 ml 100 g(-1)) resulted in marked hypercholesterolemia, increased serum level of low-density lipoproteincholesterol (LDL-C), but a decreased serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Curcumin admixedwith the diet (0.5% w/w) decreased serum total cholesterol (TC) by about 21% and LDL-C by 42.5%, butit increased serum HDL by 50%. The atherogenic indices (LDL-C/HDL-C and TC/HDL-C) were reduced by 52%and 35%, respectively. Curcumin also decreased the enzyme activities of serum AST and ALT, which wereincreased in HCD animals. Conclusions: Curcumin showed an obvious hypocholesterolemic effect that couldbe due to an effect on cholesterol absorption, degradation or elimination, but not due to an anti-oxidantmechanism. This could be supported by the finding in our study that neither HCD nor curcumin-admixedHCD had any effects on the liver content of glutathione (GSH) or superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity.Thus one could argue that ingestion of curcumin-containing spices in the diet, especially one rich infats, could have a lipid-lowering effect.