The Mediterranean diet has a new competitor, the spicy diet. Antioxidant spices may reduce the triglyceride response of a high-fat meal by 30% compared to the same meal without them, concluded a study.
The antioxidant potential of spices stems from their phenolic compounds, the authors wrote. Also, some spices increase the blood plasma concentrations of others, and spices are typically eaten as blends, making them good targets to study. Turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika were on the short list that researchers examined.
The study compared results in six healthy men ages 30 to 65 with body-mass indexes between 25 and 27 in a randomized crossover design study with one week between test meals. Researchers added 14 g (two tablespoons) of a high antioxidant culinary spice blend to a 5,060-kJ (1,200 kcal) control meal of a coconut chicken and white rice dish, cheese bread, and dessert biscuit. This turned the bland fare into chicken curry, Italian herb bread and a cinnamon biscuit.
Blood samples were taken before the meal and at 30-minute intervals for 3.5 hours. Researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Nutrition.
Meals with the antioxidant spices increased antioxidant activity in the blood by 13% and insulin response decreased by 21%. Spiced meals resulted in a 31% reduction in triglycerides. Adding spices significantly increased the ferric reducing antioxidant power, leading to a two-fold greater increase over the control meal (P=0.009). The hydrophilic oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of plasma also rose. There were no treatment differences in glucose, total thiols, lipophilic ORAC, or total ORAC.
Antioxidants are believed to reduce oxidative stress, possibly lowering chronic disease risk. Researchers said in a press release that the spice dose used in the study compared to the antioxidants found in 5 ounces of red wine or 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate.