Sprinkling in an array of spices is a sure-fire way to make any meal much more interesting.
But according to a new study undertaken by researchers at Penn State, the addition of spices may increase the health benefits of some dishes too.
For the investigation, the team recruited 12 men between the ages of 40 and 65, all of whom were overweight or obese and at risk of heart disease. They gave them a meal high in fat and carbohydrates with six grams of a spice blend added, with it later discovered that the participants had lower inflammation markers compared to when they ate a meal with less or no spices.
“If spices are palatable to you, they might be a way to make a high-fat or high-carb meal more healthful,” said Connie Rogers, associate professor of nutritional sciences. “We can’t say from this study if it was one spice in particular, but this specific blend seemed to be beneficial.”
The researchers used a blend of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.
And while Rogers isn’t exactly sure which spice or spices contributing to the anti-inflammatory effect or the precise mechanism in which the effect is created, she noted that results suggest that the spices have anti-inflammatory properties that help offset inflammation caused by the high-carb and high-fat meal.
Looking to the future, Rogers and her colleagues will be working on further studies to determine the impact spices have on people’s diets across longer periods of time and within a more diverse population.
Full study results have been published in the Journal of Nutrition.