I read a great article on herbs and spices by Lisa Fouladi on this topic and thought I would share what I read in a brief summary of her article…
Studies on herbs and spices show they can have great health effects. Spices like turmeric, black pepper, cloves, and ginger, and herbs like rosemary, sage, and oregano can contribute to the prevention of diseases like cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and digestive problems. Research shows they are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that support all the systems in your body.
According to the World Health Organization, nutrition is one of the key factors in chronic disease prevention. With correct nutrition we can fight and prevent chronic diseases and improve the quality of your life. Studies show that herbs and spices are powerful additions to your diet because they protect many organs and systems in your body.
Here are just some of the impressive benefits of herbs and spices…
1. Cancer prevention
Ginger, red chili, parsley, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, black cumin, rosemary, kokum, and Asian ginger can be protective against many forms of cancer, according to research. A study found that a daily dose of ginger stopped the growth of prostate cancer cells by 56% and diminished the expansion of tumor tissue.
Capsaicin, a compound in red chili, can help to suppress cancerous cells in the skin, stomach, colon, lung, tongue, and prostate. A study discovered that capsaicin was able to induce cell apoptosis (“cell death”) in human gastric cells – a promising finding for gastric cancer prevention. Apigenin, a compound in parsley, can kill cancer cells while keeping normal cells intact. One study found that apigenin decreased skin cancer growth by 52%. Curcumin, a component in turmeric and curry, can effectively prevent the formation of cancer cells, according to evidence.
2. Anti-diabetic effects
Fenugreek, cinnamon, and turmeric appear beneficial in the management of diabetes. A 3-year study involving 140 pre-diabetic people found that consuming 10g of fenugreek seeds per day reduced blood glucose (before and after eating), reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and increased insulin.
Evidence shows that turmeric can regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes – making it a promising spice for blood sugar control. Cinnamon can also help to lower blood sugar, according to studies.
3. Atherosclerosis Prevention
Turmeric, black pepper, garlic, and coriander have heart-healthy benefits and anti-atherosclerotic effects. A small study of 10 healthy people found that a daily dose of 500 mg of curcumin (from turmeric) decreased lipids, increased HDL “good” cholesterol, and reduced total cholesterol.
Evidence has found that eating half to one garlic clove per day can decrease total cholesterol levels by 9% in people with high cholesterol. Coriander seeds also help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, while coriander leaves can protect your arteries against clots.
4. Anti-inflammatory Effects
Evidence shows that rosemary, sage, thyme, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg can protect against inflammatory enzymes.
A different study found that both thyme and oregano essential oils can help to reduce colitis-related inflammation. These anti-inflammatory effects could protect you against chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma, hepatitis, colitis, and sinusitis – a pretty good reason to add more herbs to your plate.
5. Improved Digestion
Ginger, chamomile, and turmeric can enhance digestion and support digestive problems. A study with 24 healthy people found that ginger made the stomach process food 50% faster than a placebo. This finding suggests ginger could improve and speed up digestion.
Turmeric is another digestive aid: A study found that mixing turmeric with other spices such as coriander, red chili, black pepper, and cumin, stimulated bile flow and bile acid secretion, which improves digestion.
Further information on these studies can be found in the articles below.
Rubió, Motilva & Romero. “Recent advances in biologically active compounds in herbs and spices: a review of the most effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory active principles.” (2013)
Tapsell, Hemphill, Cobiac, Patch, Sullivan, Fenech, Roodenrys, Keogh, Clifton, Williams, Fazio & Inge. “Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future.” (2006)
Kaefer & Milner. “The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention” (2009)
Aggarwal, Kunnumakkara, Harikumar, Tharakan, Sung & Anand. ”Potential of Spice-Derived Phytochemicals for Cancer Prevention” (2008)
Karna, Chagani, Gundala, Rida, Asif, Sharma, Gupta & Aneja. “Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer.” (2012)
Kim JD, Kim JM, Pyo JO, Kim SY, Kim BS, Yu R & Han IS. “Capsaicin can alter the expression of tumor forming-related genes which might be followed by induction of apoptosis of a Korean stomach cancer cell line, SNU-1.” (1997)
Shukla and Gupta. “Apigenin: A Promising Molecule for Cancer Prevention” (2010)
Prasad & Aggarwal. “Turmeric, the Golden Spice: From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine“ in “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects” (2011)
Rao & Gan. “Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant” (2014)
Shah, Singh, Sarangi, Saxena, Chaudhary, Kaur, Kaul & Wadhwa. “Combinations of Ashwagandha leaf extracts protect brain-derived cells against oxidative stress and induce differentiation.” (2015)
Vijayakumar, Surya & Nalini. “Antioxidant efficacy of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) and piperine in rats with high fat diet induced oxidative stress.” (2004)
Percival, Vanden Heuvel, Nieves & Meadors. “Bioavailability of Herbs and Spices in Humans as Determined by ex vivo Inflammatory Suppression and DNA Strand Breaks” (2012)
Chohan, Naughton, Jones & Opara. “An investigation of the relationship between the anti-inflammatory activity, polyphenolic content, and antioxidant activities of cooked and in vitro digested culinary herbs.” (2012)
Platel, Rao, Saraswathi & Srinivasan. “Digestive stimulant action of three Indian spice mixes in experimental rats.” (2002)