Spices and Herbs for Heart Health

mixed spices“Spices and Herbs May Improve Cardiovascular Risk”.

No kidding.

“Why am I not surprised”, I remember thinking as I continued to read the article on the researchers study in Nutrition Today.

Briefly, the study involved six healthy men between the ages of 30-65 some of whom were given a meal seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices: garlic powder, oregano (Mediterranean), rosemary, paprika, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper and ginger.  Two tablespoons.  Per person.

Quite a lot, considering that roughly the average amount used for a savoury, spicy meal could range between one half to one teaspoon, but never mind it was for a good cause.

The good cause was to check blood markers for cardiovascular risks such as elevated triglycerides and glucose (insulin markers).  The meal consisted of coconut chicken, cheese bread and a dessert biscuit.  “That was it?”, I thought.

A baseline blood sample was taken and the volunteers were randomized to the same meal with the high antioxidant herbal spice blend and the other volunteers without the blend.

The researchers measured blood markers every 30 minutes for 8 samples after each meal. Results showed 13% higher antioxidant activity in the blood, 21% lower insulin and 31% lower triglycerides following the meal with the herbal spice blend. Total blood cholesterol, LDL and HDL were unchanged.

The researchers concluded “Spices and herbs are rich in compounds that may reduce inflammation and improve blood factors associated with increased [cardiovascular disease] risk”.

They also suggested that a herbal spice blend may help improve levels of insulin and triglyceride concentrations after a high fat meal while also enhancing the antioxidant capacity of the blood.

Ask any medical herbalist though and they can cite similar, but it is commendable that researchers are interested in the subject.


What to take away from this, in my opinion, is more consistent use of herbs and spices and perhaps a heavier hand with them for those notoriously ‘heavy’ meals.  Just a tip though, that coconut chicken in the trial meal is not a problem…as long as it was not hydrogenated but unprocessed, natural coconut oil.

My guess is that those researchers were going on old (and flawed) studies on coconut oil from the late 50’s.  Hydrogenated coconut oil was used in those studies, only that was not pointed out until years later.  This demonized coconut oil and opened the way for (even worse) the huge business of hydrogenated vegetable oils.  But that’s another story.

Just this morning I trimmed my rosemary and oregano (Mediterranean, of course) for drying.  Of which I will be using more, along with my other ‘usual suspects’.

What about you?


Nutrition Today is a pay for read site.  Here is a better article covering the same research, and free to read:


2 comments… add one
  • Gool Umrigar 29/10/2016, 06:18

    There are numerous benefits of having turmeric which is mostly imported from India. Where in Australia can I buy organic turmeric or capsules & be 100% sure that it is not adulterated with Metanil Yellow or wood dust or lead, or cadium or chalk ?


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