More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a 10 percent increase since the last Alzheimer’s Association estimate five years ago. What’s more, nearly 8 million are projected to have Alzheimer’s by 2030 and 16 million by 2050.

But the good news is that what you eat can play an important role in protecting yourself from the dementia epidemic.

Protect Your Memory: Eat Turmeric for Alzheimer’s Prevention

Recent research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that curcumin—the pigment that gives curry spice its yellow hue—may help to break up the “plaques” that damage the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. The plaques are actually deposits of a specific type of protein called beta-amyloid plaque.

While the verdict is still out on how much curcumin is needed to protect against dementia, adding turmeric or curry to your diet is a wise idea. Because oxidative damage and inflammation mark a number of diseases of aging – from arthritis to the buildup of plaque in the arteries – researchers believe curcumin is useful for a wide range of age-related conditions. (Learn more about the health benefits of turmeric here)

Adding More Turmeric to Your Diet

So spice up your foods with turmeric. Add curry to your chicken or egg salad (made with brain-healthy mayonnnaise rich in monounsaturated fats) and enjoy the many delicious curcumin-rich dishes of India. You’ll help to reduce inflammation and may protect your mental muscle, as well.