Friday, June 29, 2012
My wife and I could not be more different in the kitchen. As a mathematician, she likes to measure precisely, and rarely experiments with the recipe or the addition of different or more spices. I, however, like to throw all sorts of spices into the skillet or pot, often in high concentrations. I have always used spices to improve, color, change, or deepen the flavor of the dish.
According to National Public Radio (The Salt: March 3, 2012), researchers have shown there may be significant health benefits to adding spices to foods. In a small crossover experiment supported by both the National Institutes of Health and the McCormick Science Institute, six overweight but otherwise healthy adult men had serum insulin and triglyceride levels drawn immediately before and every 30 minutes after consumption of a high-fat 1200 kcal control and spiced dinner for 3.5 hours. The only difference between the dinners was that the spiced dinner contained 14 grams (roughly 2 tablespoons) of rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika. The spices were chosen for their potent antioxidant effects. Insulin and triglyceride levels were 21 and 31 percent lower following consumption of the spiced meal compared to the levels following the control meal.
Moreover, serum antioxidant measures were twice as high following the spiced meal. The participants, who had been informed ahead of time that one meal would be spiced, reported no adverse effects. Which of the spices or herbs is most responsible for the beneficial effect or whether there is a dose response curve is not known. Moreover, as this was a single meal, no long term conclusions can be drawn. Still, I will take any support I can get for my actions in the kitchen. Now when I toss a heaping tablespoon of tumeric into the chicken dish, I can tell my wife that I am doing it for her heart.
Noted by WVR, MD
*This filler excerpt can be found in the June 2012 Pediatrics print journal p. 1133, or via online here.
Posted by Dr. Lewis R. First at 12:01 AM