20 April 2009

Spices have more antioxidant power than fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help prevent cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and premature aging. A study reported, fifteen aromatic herbs and spices consumed in Central Italy were studied to reveal total phenolic, flavonoid and flavanol content as well as their antioxidant potential as measured by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Comparison was made between salads to which aromatic herbs had been added. The addition of lemon balm and marjoram increased by 150% and 200% respectively the antioxidant capacity of a salad portion, corresponding to an intake of 200 mg. of phenolics and 4000 ORAC units. Among other spices tested, cumin and fresh ginger made the most significant contribution to antioxidant capacity.

Addition of the spice mixture reduced the levels of lipid peroxidation (break down of fats resulting in free radical formation) markers in tissues and improved glucose metabolism and antioxidant status of the rats even though they continued to be fed their fructose diet.

A study in Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids reported that spices possess antioxidant activity that can preserve the integrity of lipids and reduce lipid peroxidation. The spices tested were garlic, ginger, onion, mint, cloves, cinnamon and pepper. Cloves exhibited the highest and onion showed the least antioxidant activity. The relative antioxidant activities decreased in the order of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, garlic, mint and onion. Spices mixes of ginger, onion and garlic; onion and ginger; and ginger and garlic showed cumulative inhibition of lipid peroxidation, exhibiting synergistic antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity of the spice extracts was retained even after boiling for 30 minutes, indicating that the spice constituents were resistant to thermal denaturing.

The Journal of Medicine and Food reported an investigation, 24 herbs and spices at a local supermarket Found many of them have power to inhibit tissue damage and inflammation brought on by high blood-sugar levels in the body. They inhibited the glycation process which has been linked to inflammation and tissue damage in diabetics. The spices with the greatest effects were cloves, cinnamon, allspice, apple pie spice, and pumpkin pie spice.

Study from the Journal of Medicine and Food investigated the effects of red chili, cumin, and black pepper on colon cancer induced in rats. They found that cumin and black pepper suppressed the onset of colon cancer.

Aspergillus parasiticus, commonly known as aflatoxin, is a carginogenic mold that is found on improperly stored grains and peanuts. In a study reported in the Journal of Medicine and Food, the inhibitory effects of 16 spice hydrosols (anise, basil, cumin, dill, Aegean sage, fennel, laurel, mint, oregano, pickling herb, rosemary, sage, savory, sea fennel, sumac and thyme) on the aflatoxin strain were investigated in vitro. The hydrosols of anise, cumin, fennel, mint, pickling herb, oregano, savory, and thyme showed a strong inhibitory effect, while sumac, sea fennel, rosemary, sage, Aegean saage, laural, basil and rosemary were unable to totally inhibit the growth.

These researchers also studied the effects essential oils from of black thyme, cumin, fennel, laurel, marjoram, mint, oregano, pickling herb, sage, savory and thyme against Bacillus species of bacteria. All of the tested oils except laurel showed antibacterial activity against one or more of the Bacillus species used in the study. Researchers concluded that essential oils of some spices may be used as antimicrobial agents to prevent the spoilage of food products. Foods that will be left standing out for a period of time without refrigeration can be made safe with the addition of some of these spices and herbs.

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