Cooking spices and herbs boast a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants- nutrients that help in boosting the nutrient density of meals. In essence, every time you add spices and herbs to your cooking preparations, you are essentially enhancing your food without adding unnecessary calories.
According to studies, on a per gram basis, wholesome herbs feature higher antioxidant benefits than fruits and vegetables- food sources we know are all high in antioxidants. On the other hand, majority of spices boast amazing medicinal qualities that help in the prevention and management of certain diseases.
In a studied conducted by several universities designed to identify and evaluate the benefits of herbs and spices. This was implemented by feeding test subjects with meals that typically include herbs and spices as their ingredients.
According to Dr. Michael Greger, they decided to take the tedious and painstaking route of analyzing the physiological changes in the blood to determine the amount of health benefits one can derive from regular consumption of meals enriched with herbs and spices. Instead of measuring the antioxidant levels in the bloodstream before and after consumption of meals containing herbs and spices. Although this is the easy way, this process but not a clear measure of bioavailability.
The team of researchers were interested to find out if the absorbed compounds found in herbs and spices can truly protect white bloods cells from inflammatory injury and oxidative stress- whether herbs and spices have the ability to protect DNA strands from destruction when attacked by free radicals.
Top Four Anti-Inflammatory Spices
The test included placing ten to twelve subjects in each of a total of thirteen groups to consume small amounts of a particular spice each day. For instance, those placed under the oregano group ate half a teaspoon of oregano for seven straight days. Blood samples were drawn one hour prior to consumption, and at the very end of the experiment.
The blood samples were then analyzed for antioxidant capacity. In addition to this, the blood samples were also analyzed on how well they can dampen and promote inflammatory processed in white blood cells.
The experiment was implemented by placing the blood samples onto white blood cells that have been extensively damaged by oxidized cholesterol normally found in friend foods. Results reveal that everyday dosage of herbs and spices given to test subjects, there were four spices that were found to be effective in reducing inflammatory processes:
The results only represent the expected scenario when cells in the body are exposed to small and normal doses of spices normally circulating in the bloodstream, and not in mega doses usually supplied by pills.
Other Important and Beneficial Spices
A study earlier published by the Journal of Medicinal Foods reveal the close relationship between the antioxidant phenol content found in herb extracts and their ability to slow down the process of glycation as well as impede the formation of advanced glycation end products or AGE compounds. This result provides us with the useful information that herbs and spices can prevent heart diseases and signs of premature aging.
In the study, cloves was considered to be the most powerful of all the 24 herbs that were tested. The top ten most powerful herbs and spices woth anti-inflammatory properties:
3. Jamaican allspice
4. Apple pie spice mix
6. Pumpkin pie spice mix
10. Gourmet Italian spice
Inflammatory Processes are the Main Causes of Chronic, Debilitating Diseases
We are well aware of the fact that long-term inflammation places number one in terms of causative factors of majority of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and obesity among many others. Inflammation then is considered as one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States.
Inflammatory processed induced by the body’s natural defenses are natural. They are beneficial processes that take place then the body protects itself from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. However if the inflammation is chronic in nature, it may lead to more serious medical condition. Much of the inflammatory processes are caused by bad diet.
Although spices and herbs are the most effective in treating inflammation, one should remember that variety in the food we eat is also crucial. There are a long list of food items are deemed crucial in stopping inflammation and promoting healing. Make sure to eat a wide range of herbs and spices as well as other healthy meals in order for you to prevent or reduce the development of chronic illnesses.
The Top 10 Ant-Inflammatory Food Sources
Listed below are food items and nutrients that are highly popular for their effective anti-inflammatory response:
Omega-3 Fat (animal based)
Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish such as salmon from Alaska and krill oil are 100% guaranteed in getting rid of inflammation throughout the body. It is also beneficial in that it improves brain function. In fact, research studies published by the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2012, reveals confirmation that krill oil reduces inflammatory processes and oxidative stress due to its high Omega-3 fatty acids concentration.
Dark leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale are packed with potent flavonoids, antioxidants, Vitamin C, and carotenoids. These nutrients help in protecting the cell against damage from free radicals. It is ideal to choose organic leafy greens to optimize nutrient absorption. In addition, it is best to consume leafy greens fresh.
Juicing is yet another great way to obtain more nutrients from these leafy greens.
In terms of antioxidant potency and capacity, blueberries are listed high in the charts when compared alongside other fruits and veggies. They contain lower sugar than any other fruits in the market.
Matcha tea is filled with the most number of nutrients when compared alongside other types of tea. It comes in stone-ground, unfermented powder form. The best Matcha tea camn be sourced directly from Japan and contains up to 17 times more antioxidants than those in wild blueberries. It also contains up to seven times more antioxidants when compared alongside dark chocolate.
Tulsi is yet another type of tea enriched antioxidants that fight inflammation. It also consists of micronutrients that function to boost immune health function and cardiovascular health.
Fermented Vegetables and Cultured Foods
Making sure the natural flora in the digestive system is at its ideal level is crucial to maintain a healthy and functioning immune system. Keeping your gut flora healthy has been found to ward off chronic inflammation too. A large portion of inflammatory conditions most commonly starts in the gut, and is mainly caused by an imbalance in its natural microbiome.
Fermented food products such as natto, cheese, kefir, kimchi, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, pickles, olives, and fermented vegetables aid in the process of “reseeding” the gut with all the beneficial bacteria. Lastly, fermented foods can aid the body in getting rid of harmful toxins such as heavy metals as well as pesticides that stimulate inflammation.
Shitake mushrooms are loaded with potent compounds that have the inherent ability of inhibiting inflammatory processes. One such compound is Ergothioneine that mainly functions to slow down the process of oxidative stress.
Shitake mushroom also contains vast amounts of exceptional nutrients that we do not normally get from our normal diet. One of these nutrients is copper, a metallic element that works wonders in combination with amino acids and fatty acids. Since the human body does not have the ability to produce and synthesize its own copper requirements, we need regular supply of it through diet. Copper deficiency has been proven to be a causative element in the development of heart disease.
Garlic is a highly valued food item due to its many medicinal properties. Thousands of research studies have been conducted on the benefits of garlic. There are over 200 studies surrounding garlic and about 150 conditions. Garlic delivers its benefits in a multitude of settlings and in multiple levels, most notably offering benefits ranging from its anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties.
Much of the therapeutic qualities of copper can be attributed to its high sulfur content, allicin. Research reveals that allicin is easily absorbed by the body. The body then produces sulfenic acid from allicin synthesis. It isessentially a compound that reacts most efficiently with free radicals than any other compound known to man.
A healthy diet is key to reducing chronic inflammation
The common theme among a wide range of health conditions- from obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease- is chronic inflammation. The secret to reducing long-term inflammation is keeping a healthy diet. Liberal use of spices and herbs of high quality is one easy way of boosting not only the taste but also the overall nutritional quality of your food. They are one of the cheapest weapons to increase your health. Increasing the taste and quality of food is not enough though. Make sure to only use fresh, natural ingredients and skip the use of processed foods altogether.
It is important to bear in mind that dietary ingredients used in the preparation of food either stop or induce inflammatory processes. Processed foods trigger inflammation due to the pro-inflammatory compounds such as fructose, corn syrup, soy, processed vegetable oil, and artificial additives. Aside from the addition of anti-inflammatory food in your diet, it is imperative to avoid the consumption of dishes that contain pro-inflammatory ingredients.
- Be cautious when using sugar, processed fructose, and grains. For those with fasting insulin level of three or above, it only becomes necessary to reduce or totally eliminate grains and sugars from your diet until you have optimized insulin level yet again. Bear in mind that insulin resistance is one of the top culprits of chronic inflammation. Yet another rule to live by- restrict or reduce fructose intake down to 25 grams daily. If you are suffering from insulin and/or leptin resistance, or suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and heart disease, you need to cut down fructose intake down to 15 grams per day until your insulin and leptin resistance issue normalizes.
- Oxidized cholesterol or cholesterol that has gone rancid should be avoided. Therefore, it is best to get rid of overcooked fried food altogether.
- Food ingredients that are cooked at very high temperatures, most especially vegetable oil, peanut oil, and soy oil.
- Trans fats Ideally, replace your usual diet with wholesome, organic foods. You may want to try out eating some of organic foods raw. Make sure to “reseed: your guy with beneficial bacteria from time to time.