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Curcumin and Cholesterol

 Med Sci Monit. 2005 Jul;11(7):BR228-234. Epub 2005 Jun 29. Curcumin attenuates diet-induced hypercholesterolemia in rats.

Arafa HM. Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Al-Azhar University, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt. hmmarafa@yahoo.com

BACKGROUND: Curcumin (a component of turmeric) has long been used as a spice 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 curcumin was investigated in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD). The lipid profile and activities of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were assessed in serum, as well as anti-oxidant parameters in liver tissues. RESULTS: Feeding the animals a high cholesterol diet (HCD) for 7 consecutive days (1 ml 100 g(-1)) resulted in marked hypercholesterolemia, increased serum level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), but a decreased serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Curcumin admixed with the diet (0.5% w/w) decreased serum total cholesterol (TC) by about 21% and LDL-C by 42.5%, but it 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 were increased in HCD animals.

CONCLUSIONS: Curcumin showed an obvious hypocholesterolemic effect that could be due to an effect on cholesterol absorption, degradation or elimination, but not due to an anti-oxidant mechanism. This could be supported by the finding in our study that neither HCD nor curcumin-admixed HCD 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 in fats, could have a lipid-lowering effec

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