Researchers in the US have just announced that eating a diet rich in spices such as turmeric and cinnamon help reduce the body’s negative responses to eating fatty foods. People who eat more high-fat meals end up with high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in their blood.

The leading researcher, Sheila West said, “If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased. We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30%, compared to a similar meal with no spices added.”

The study, which is published in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, included six overweight but otherwise healthy men between the ages of 30 to 65 years old. On two separate days, they were given meals prepared by the researchers. The test meal was chicken curry, Italian herb bread and a cinnamon biscuit with two tablespoons of culinary spices added to each serving. On the other hand, the control meal was identical but without the added spices. The spices included rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika – chosen for their potent antioxidant properties.

Besides lowering the triglyceride levels, the blend of antioxidant spices resulted in a 13% rise in antioxidant activity and a 20% lower insulin response.

Cinnamon, in particular, has developed a great reputation for improving health. Adding as little as ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon per day to your diet will also help lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Those who had more cinnamon (up to 1 ¾ teaspoon daily) for 40 days saw a reduction of up to 23 – 30% in their triglyceride levels. If you’ve got Type II Diabetes, the small ¼ teaspoon sprinkle will also enhance the effectiveness of insulin.

Other health benefits of cinnamon:

  • The antioxidants in cinnamon also help to boost the immune system.
  • Cinnamon is an anti-blood clotting and anti-inflammatory food-and inflammation is the root cause of many health problems such as arthritis and heart disease.
  • Cinnamon contains manganese, fibre and calcium.
  • Cinnamon is anti-microbial and has been studied for its ability to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi, including candida yeast.
  • A common ingredient in chai tea, cinnamon is thought to aid digestion of dairy products and fruit.

So be generous with the cinnamon – whatever food you’re sprinkling it on!

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