I don’t know about you, but I dislike food that tastes bland. And when talking 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. It can be very difficult, especially for those who dislike cooking in the first place. When I came across the research below, I thought here is the best reason to incorporate herbs and spices into the foods we eat. Not only do herbs and spices nourish the body, more importantly, they also help to heal the body.
According to new research published in Nutrition Today, herbs and spices actually encourage heart health by helping to improve blood bio-markers related to measuring heart health.
Here’s how the research was carried out.
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, which were 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 included:
- garlic powder
- 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!
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
- coriander (cilantro)
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
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
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.