Spices Help Reduce Fats in Meals

May 26, 2020
Herbs spices

ADDING some of your favorite spices to your meal would help reduce some of the harmful effects of fats in meals, according to a study.

Hamburgers, French fries, fried chicken and pork liempo are Filipinos’ favorites containing high fats and sodium.

Nutritionists found that coriander, cumin, thyme and parsley help counteracts some of the harmful effects of high-fat meals. Adding even one teaspoon of these spices to a recipe can have anti-inflammatory benefits, reducing the risk of cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Researchers found that high-fat meals such as burgers, fried chicken and oil-based curries have less of a detrimental effect on the body if they're piled with spice.

The findings are good news for people who struggle to find the time to exercise or seldom eat healthier foods.

The participants in the study had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, an inactive lifestyle, high cholesterol or family history.

For the experiments, researchers used a special blend of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme and turmeric.

In a random order, each participant ate three versions of a meal high in saturated fat and carbohydrates on three separate days – one with no added spice mix, one with two grams of spice mix and one with six grams (just over a teaspoon) of spice mix.

The research team drew blood samples before and after each meal hourly for four hours to measure the presence of inflammatory markers – biological characteristics that can appear as a result of harmful stimuli.

Inflammatory markers – such as C-reactive proteins and the enzyme myeloperoxidase – can be helpful in diagnosing specific diseases or for monitoring disease activity.

The research team also cultured the white blood cells, taken from the blood samples, in the lab, so they produced cytokines – proteins secreted by cells of the immune system.

Analysis showed inflammation was reduced after eating a meal with six grams of spices, compared to food with just two grams or no spice at all. Researchers explained that six grams is roughly equivalent to between one teaspoon and one tablespoon, depending on how the spices are dehydrated.

They found that  the level of stimulated white blood cells was reduced by a whopping 13 to 14 per cent in 24 minutes after the meal containing six grams of spice mix was consumed, signifying a lower immune response.

It was not clear which of the 13 herbs and spices contributed to the effects or how exactly the mix lowered levels of inflammatory markers.

In another experiment using the same subjects, six grams of spices resulted in a smaller post-meal reduction of 'flow mediated dilation' in the blood vessels – a measure of blood vessel flexibility and sign of good blood vessel health.

In previous studies, scientists have found inflammation can spike after a person eats a meal high in fat or sugar.

It's not clear whether these shorts bursts – known as “acute inflammation” – can cause the more serious long-term “chronic inflammation”, which can actually easier to miss.

People who are overweight or obese are more prone to chronic inflammation.

Here’s a short glimpse of what these spices and herbs do:

* Basil. The plant leaves complement tomatoes in Italian dishes.

* Bay leaf (dahon ng laurel).  Gives aroma on food and gives great depth to stocks.

* Black peppercorns. We usually add marinating and in adobo recipe.

* Cinnamon. The bark is usually used in savory and sweet dishes.

* Coriander.  Referred to as “devil's herb” by some because it reportedly makes a meal taste like soap. Its roots and stems are just as flavorful as the leaves.

* Cumin. It gives a distinctive spicy aroma to curries and chillis.

* Ginger. Makes dishes savory and sweet.

* Oregano. From the mint family, it’s a staple in Italian cuisine.

* Parsley. Flat or curly with a fresh grass-like flavor.

* Red pepper

* Rosemary. This herb is usually added in casseroles, stews and red meats.

* Thyme. This evergreen herb is good in chicken and lemon dishes.

* Turmeric. The crushed root adds warm and bitter taste.