12 January - 20 June 2016

Investigating the effects of cooking on the quality and bioavailability of curcumin

4 Dec 13

A German study published in Food Chemistry by Mahlknecht et al. has investigated cooking on the anti-cancerogenic effects of curcumin.  Curcumin is found in turmeric and has been known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancerogenic properties. Epidemiological data from WHO indicates that curcumin as part of a traditional Indian diet is associated with low incidence rates of colorectal, prostate and lung cancers in India.   However previous studies have shown that curcumin has a low bioavailability and is reported by Mahlknecht et al to show low buffer and plasma stability.  To investigate whether cooking changes the quality or bioavailability the scientists used 5 mg curcumin (80% curcumin, 17% demethoxycurcumin, and 3% bisdemethoxycurcumin) and pyrolysed  this with or without 50mg of coconut fat, traditionally used in India, or olive oil, used in western cooking. The scientists analysed the products using HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography).  After pyrolysis of curcumin the scientists reported that the major part of curcumin remained unchanged although they saw an increase of more hydrophilic curcumin isoforms and decomposition products, as well as an unknown product.  Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy the scientists identified the unknown compound, formerly described as a synthetic curcumin derivative, as deketene curcumin (1,5-bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-1,4-pentadiene-3-one). Using B78H1 melanoma cells the scientists carried out a number of in-vitro experiments to investigate the activity of this derivative, curcumin and pyrolysed curcumin on the cells.  The scientists found that deketene curcumin, had a higher stability, and exhibited higher toxicity against tumour cells compared to curcumin and the reactant.  This, the authors state therefore indicates that “pre-consumptional pyrolysis of curcumin, during common household cooking, strongly enhances the beneficial health effects of curcumin.”

RSSL’s  Functional Ingredients Laboratory can analyse for curcumin in turmeric. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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