The hidden health power of spices and herbs

By Karen Schrock:

Spices top the list of foods rich in antioxidants, explained Marianne Gillette, a vice president at McCormick & Company, whose background is in experimental taste research. One half teaspoon of ground cinnamon has as many antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries; a half teaspoon of dried oregano rivals three cups of raw spinach.

And the health benefits go far beyond antioxidants. A UCLA paper published May 9 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a mixture of herbs and spices to hamburgers reduced the level of carcinogenic compounds created by grilling—such as the dangerous malondialdehyde that forms when beef fat oxidizes. Malondialdehyde damages DNA in cells, which is thought to lead to replication errors and possibly cancer. Not only did the burgers with the spice mixture—a palatable blend of oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper and others—have lower levels of malondialdehyde when tested in the lab, but subjects who ate the spiced burgers had fewer DNA breaks in their cells afterwards.

Of course, the healthfulness of spices and herbs is nothing new to some—traditional medicine all over the world has been using them in remedies for millennia. Although many such uses have yet to be validated by experimental studies, new benefits are being suggested by studies all the time. Take ginger—three University of Georgia pilot studies (not yet published) suggest that eating a small amount of ginger daily for 11 days or more can reduce muscle pain and inflammation after exercise…Read more>>


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