Adding certain spices to a meal can help reduce inflammation

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Researchers found that spices can do more than just add flavor

Inflammation throughout the body can increase the risk for any number of health conditions, and now experts are exploring how a simple dietary adjustment can reduce that risk. 

A new study conducted by researchers from Penn State found that spicing up food could be a great way for consumers to reduce inflammation. Their work revealed that balancing out meals that are high in fats or carbs with a blend of different spices can work to lower inflammation. 

“Ultimately the gold standard would be to get people eating more healthfully and to lose weight and exercise, but those behavioral changes are difficult and take time,” said researcher Connie Rogers. “So in the interim, we wanted to explore whether a combination of spices that people are already familiar with and could fit in a single meal could have a positive effect.” 

Adding spice

The researchers had a dozen men participate in the study, all of whom were overweight and between the ages of 40 and 65. 

Over the course of three days, the researchers gave the participants three variations of the same meal with different variations of spices; all of the meals were high in carbs and fats. The first meal had no added spices and the second had just two grams of spices; the final meal had six grams of spices. 

For the blend of seasonings, the researchers combined ginger, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, black pepper, oregano, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper, cumin, rosemary, and basil. 

The study revealed that the combination of spices was effective in reducing the participants’ inflammation following the heavy meals, and the dish with the most spices correlated with the lowest inflammatory response. 

While the researchers couldn’t pinpoint which of the spices contributed the most to these results, the combination of them was successful. The researchers recommend that consumers still do their best to follow healthy diets and engage in physical activity, but these findings can help consumers prepare when they know they’ll be eating heavier meals. 

“If spices are palatable to you, they might be a way to make a high-fat or high-carb meal more healthful,” said Rogers. “We can’t say from this study if it was one spice in particular, but this specific blend seemed to be beneficial.”

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