Photo: Neha Singh
While some researchers are pushing for regulation of sugar in order to limit heart risks, others say that adding a few spices can potentially help your heart.
According to NPR, a study from Penn State reveals that spicy meals can reduce fat in the blood. More specifically, the spices can cut levels of triglycerides. Sheila West, one of the researchers who conducted the study, said triglycerides are a major risk factor for heart disease and that those who had spicy meals reduced their fat levels by a third compared to those who did not have any spices in their food. Some of the spices that were used in the experiment included turmeric, oregano, paprika, rosemary and ginger.
The research did not determine which spices had the most effect on reducing triglyceride levels, but some experts are already optimistic about the results.
“To me, the biggest advantage [found in the study] is the lowering of triglycerides and the insulin levels [which dropped about 20 percent],” said cardiologist Ravi Dave of the University of California, Los Angeles. Rave added that keeping these levels low can also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease.
For those interested in adding a little spice into their meals, MSN recently listed nine spices that provide health benefits:
1. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a spice taken from the inner bark of several trees that are found in Southeast Asia. It contains antioxidants that can help one battle diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. It also helps decrease blood sugar levels by facilitating your body’s insulin.
2. Sage: Sage comes in a wide variety. Garden sage, otherwise known by its scientific name salvia officinalis, hails from the Mediterranean region. It has long been used for medical and culinary purposes. Studies have shown that sage can help fight Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This spice can also help with digestion.
3. Turmeric: Turmeric is considered part of the ginger family and can be found in South Asia. In many cases, it is boiled, dried and grounded into a yellow curry powder that is distinctive of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. As mentioned before, turmeric can help boost heart health and control triglyceride levels.
4. Thyme: Like sage, thyme is a medical spice. It is a basic ingredient in many Middle Eastern and European cuisines and used to add flavor to soups and stews. Thyme can help fight off e. coli and staph and is tremendously useful in easing digestion.
5. Ginger: Ginger cultivation first began in South Asia and soon spread to East Africa and the Caribbean. Though strong in flavor, it can help settle the stomach. It can also help alleviate menstrual cramps, muscle pain, and migraines. Most doctors recommend using ginger on a daily basis, although they caution against ingesting it in large quantities.
6. Rosemary: A herb native to the Mediterranean region, rosemary, like cinnamon, contains antioxidants that can take on Alzheimer’s, strokes and cancers. Still, you should be careful of consuming it in large quantities. Heavy consumption of rosemary has been linked to seizures and weak iron absorption.
7. Saffron: Known as the most expensive spice in the world, saffron is believed to originate in Central Asia. A study several years ago suggested that it has some antidepressant properties that are similar to Prozac. Saffron can also increase blood flow to the brain and even reverse degenerative eye diseases.
8. Basil: Originally from India, basil has become a major part of Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines. It is traditionally used to treat diabetes, stress and asthma. It can also help those with arthritis or any sort of inflammatory health problem.
9. Chili peppers: Contrary to popular belief, chili peppers are fruits and not vegetables. They originated in the Americas and have been commonly associated with Latin food. Studies have shown that chili peppers can help treat headaches, arthritis, and other chronic pain problems.
For more health tips, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)