Fragrant and tantalizing, spices enrich our dishes. But they are also a valuable source of health-promoting properties. Until now, the action of spices has always been studied individually and for short periods, but what happens when several spices are consumed together for a long period of time, as happens in the daily diet? This is the subject of an American study published a few days ago in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Oh et al, AJCN, 2021).
Spices and health
Turmeric, pepper, chilli, cinnamon, ginger are spices rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties well proven by scientific studies. However, to date, studies have always focused on the action of single spices, perhaps taken in the form of high-dose supplements, and on their effects in the short term. Instead, there is a lack of research aimed at understanding the properties of several spices taken together, in smaller quantities and over the long term, just as happens with food. In fact, in everyday life, we can consume on the same day curry distributed in sauces or vegetables, cinnamon in desserts, ginger in herbal teas, but also oregano, basil, coriander and parsley added to fish, pasta or snacks.
The spice blend against inflammation, the study
To fill this gap, the American researchers have developed a study aimed at understanding the effects over several weeks of the consumption of a spice blend included in the daily diet. In this way, 70 people were recruited, average age 44, overweight and with visceral fat accumulation, therefore with a greater cardiovascular risk. The participants were divided into three groups. The first group was asked to consume mixed spices (curry, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, basil, coriander and parsley) in low doses for a total of half a gram every day for a month. The second group included 3 grams of mixed spices in the diet every day for a month, while the third group consumed high doses of spices, about 6 grams, every day for a month. Before and at the end of the experiment, the participants underwent blood tests and medical examinations. What emerged was that already with 3 grams of spices a day it was possible to significantly reduce the circulating pro-inflammatory substances. This result is noteworthy since chronic inflammation is a silent enemy, which acts over time and, if not countered, can weaken the immune system, may cause cardiovascular disease, cellular degeneration, depression and obesity. But the beneficial effects of spices don't end there. In fact, the spice mix also lowered blood pressure. This is also remarkable since the study was performed on people with a high cardiovascular risk.
So, here is the proof that the consumption of spices, at the typical doses of a varied and balanced diet, has long-term beneficial effects, protecting the heart and the entire body, lowering pressure and reducing inflammation levels.