Spice Things Up

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire)  Adding a variety of spices to your diet might not only add some variety and taste, they will even improve your health.

Herbs and spices are the best way to add flavor and dimension to a dish without adding fat, salt or calories.  If that isn’t good enough, consider this: All herbs and spices contain beneficial antioxidants.

Antioxidants are substances in your diet that will slow or prevent the oxidative process in which cells are damaged by free radicals.  Excessive oxidation can lead to cell dysfunction.

Antioxidants have been linked to the prevention of heart disease and diabetes, improving immune function and lowering the risk of infection and even some cancers.  It seems like new ones are being discovered every day.

“You have probably heard about the antioxidants found in dark chocolate and red wine.  What is often overlooked is that spices like ground cloves, oregano leaves, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and yellow mustard seed are the real antioxidant powerhouses.  Most contain a higher concentration of antioxidants per 100g than dark chocolate, wine or even blueberries. The best part is that they have none of the calories found in chocolate or the drawbacks associated with excessive alcohol consumption,” say Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, co-authors of TurboCharged Recipes:  Delicious Fuel for Your Fabulous Fat Burning Machine.  

The National Institute on Health recommends getting your antioxidants from dietary sources.   Including a wide variety of herbs and spices is an easy and effective way to accomplish this.

Herbs and spices have a long history in ancient systems of medicine in all cultures particularly in China and India.  Researchers from UCLA have found that curcumin, a natural component of the spice turmeric, has anti-cancer benefits and that supplementation reduced brain tumor size by 81% in 9 out of 11 studies.

However, the potential benefits are not limited to curcumin.  For example: 1 tsp. of ground cloves has more antioxidants than 2/3 of a cup of fresh blueberries; 1 tsp. of dried oregano leaves has 3 times the antioxidants as 1/2 a cup of raw broccoli; 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon has almost 4 times the antioxidants as a sweet potato; 1 tsp. of ground turmeric has more antioxidants than 1 cup of pinto beans; 1 tsp. of ground ginger has more antioxidants than 1 cup of honeydew melon; 1 tsp. of ground mustard has more antioxidants than 1 cup of raw carrots; 1 tsp. of paprika has more antioxidants than a 1 oz. serving of almonds; 1 tsp. of basil leaves has more antioxidants than a cup of raw cabbage; 1 tsp. of curry seasoning has as many antioxidants as a medium tomato; 1 tsp. of parsley flakes has more antioxidants than 1/2 cup of sliced cucumber; 1 tsp. of ground black pepper has more antioxidants than 1 cup of diced watermelon, and; 1 tsp. of chili powder has 3x more antioxidants than 1/2 cup sliced radishes.

Tom Griesel adds, “As you can see, it doesn’t take much to increase the antioxidant content of your diet.  When added to a diet already based around antioxidant rich fresh fruits and vegetables you have all the bases covered.”

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