Herbs and Spices Encourage Heart Health

January 15th, 2015 by Loretta Lanphier, NP, CN, CH, HHP

Herbs and Spices Encourage Heart Health

According to research published in Nutrition Today, herbs and spices encourage heart health by improving blood bio-markers related to measuring heart health. This is one more reason to note the importance of a healthy diet in the prevention of disease. According to the CDC, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. And heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to Johns Hopkins, an estimated 15 million U.S. adults have coronary heart disease. Approximately 78 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure.

Okay…so back to herbs and spices. I don’t know about you, but I dislike bland-tasting food. As I talk to clients about the importance of eating plant-based foods, the biggest complaint I hear is how difficult it is to make vegetables and salads taste good. I agree that it can be difficult, especially for those who dislike vegetables in the first place. When I came across the research below, I thought here is a very easy solution to help plant-based food taste good and encourage heart health at the same time. More importantly, not only can herbs and spices nourish your body, they can also support your body in the healing and repairing process.

The Research Process.

Sheila G. West, PhD, from The Pennsylvania State University (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues prepared meals for six men, ages 30 to 65 years, who were overweight but otherwise healthy. The meals, consumed on two separate days, were identical and consisted of chicken, bread, and a dessert biscuit; however, the test meal also included the addition of two tablespoons of a high-antioxidant spice blend.

Research Suggests Specific Herbs and Spices Encourage Heart Health

The  specific herbs and spices that encouraged hearth health in the study mentioned above included:

  • garlic powder
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • paprika
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • black pepper

The research team monitored heart health bio-markers markers for three hours after each meal. Antioxidant activity in the blood rose 13% after the subjects ate the test meal (with spices), postprandial insulin decreased by 21% and triglycerides by 31%, post test-meal.  The study authors report that: “Herbs and Spices are rich in compounds that may reduce inflammation and improve blood factors associated with increased [cardiovascular disease] risk.”

The research team further stated: “the metabolic effects of spices and herbs and their efficacy and safety relative to traditional drug therapy represent an exciting area for future research given the public health significance of cardiovascular disease.” Dr. West added: “We live in a world where people consume too many calories every day. Adding high antioxidant spices might be a way to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.” Reducing calories without sacrificing taste – certainly a win-win situation!

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Other Herbs and Spices Known to Encourage Heart Health

Scientific studies suggest that herbs and spices are also potent inhibitors of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar and circulating lipids. Because spices and herbs have very low calorie content and are relatively inexpensive, they are reliable sources of antioxidants and other potential bioactive compounds in diet that can encourage heart health.

Other herbs and spices that may encourage heart health are:

  • cayenne pepper
  • thyme
  • sage
  • basil
  • parsley
  • fenugreek
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • cardamom
  • hawthorn

We know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. More than 611,000 people die from heart disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are several different types of heart disease, and your risk can increase with certain factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, family history, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use.

The good news is you can make the change to a heart healthy plant-based diet easier by learning to make foods delicious. Incorporating heart healthy herbs and spices is a great place to begin. The following Heart Healthy Spice-N-Herb Seasoning Mix Recipe tastes wonderful and is a seasoning you will want to keep on hand for all your favorite recipes.

No-Salt Heart Healthy Spice-N-Herb Seasoning Mix Recipe

Ingredient List – (Use organic ingredients)

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Whisk together garlic powder, thyme leaves, oregano, onion powder, paprika, celery seed, white pepper, dry mustard, lemon peel, and black pepper in a small bowl until well-combined.

Use a funnel and place in a dry glass container and seal tightly. Store away from heat and light. Use within 6 months for best flavor. Use on free-range meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables.

Recipe Yield: about 1/4 cup

References

CDC Heart Disease Facts.

Johns Hopkins Cardiovascular Disease Statistics.

West, Sheila G., Skulas-Ray, Ann C.  Spices and Herbs May Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors.  Nutrition Today, September/October 2014, Volume 49, Issue 5, p S8-S9.

Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. She has studied and performed extensive research in health science, natural hormone balancing, anti-aging techniques, nutrition, natural medicine, weight loss, herbal remedies, non-toxic cancer support and is actively involved in researching new natural health protocols and products.  A 14 year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.

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