Herbs and spices certainly give a meal a flavour boost, but they can also give your metabolism a boost!
Many herbs and spices are known for the health benefits, containing antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and some medicinal properties but some are particularly good for promoting weight loss. So if you're trying to shift a pound or two gained from over-indulgence then read on!
Capsaicin is the substance that gives peppers their heat and may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue and lower blood fat levels as ell as fighting fat build up by triggering beneficial protein changes in the body.
This spice may boost your metabolism as well as having great benefits for blood sugar regulation. It has been found to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also increases glucose metabolism by about 20 times, great improving the body's ability to regulate blood sugar.
Black pepper contains a substance called piperine which gives it the ability to block the formation of new fat cells. When combined with capsaicin and other substances black pepper is found to burn as many calories as a 20 minute walk! Black pepper also increase the bio availability of virtually all other foods.
Believe it or not the mustard plant is actually from the same family of vegetables as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Mustard seeds have been shown to boost metabolic rate by 25% which means you burn calories more efficiently.
This yellow-orange spice is found in many curry dishes. Curcumin is one of turmeric's most studied active ingredients and has been shown to reduce the formation of fat tissue by suppressing the blood vessels needed to form it it. This in turn may contribute to lower body fat and body weight gain.
Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as having the ability to soothe and relax the intestinal tract. Research has also suggested that ginger may have thermogenic properties that help boost the metabolism as well as having an appetite suppressing effect which consumed. An ideal candidate for weight management perhaps.
Cardamom, like Ginger, is another thermogenic herb that helps to boost the metabolism and therefore improve the body's ability to burn fat.
This spice aids digestion and energy production and may improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. Cumin has a long history of medicinal use and has also been found to enhance memory and provide anti-stress benefits.
Further benefits of Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are actually some of the most potent antioxidants in our food supply, in fact many surpass other more well-known sources of antioxidants. For instance, spices such as cloves and cinnamon have phenol levels that are 30% and 18% of dry weight, respectively. In comparison blueberries, which are widely touted for their antioxidant capabilities, contain approx 5% phenol by dry weight.
Another example is oregano, which has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and four times more than blueberries! One tablespoon of fresh oregano contains the same antioxidant activity as one medium-sized apple.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods found a direct correlation between the antioxidant phenol content and the spice's ability to inhibit glycation and the formation of toxic advanced glycation end products, suggesting them to be important in preventing heart disease and premature aging.
According to this study, the top 10 most potent herbs and spices are:
- Cloves (ground)
- Cinnamon (ground)
- Jamaican allspice (ground)
- Apple pie spice (mixture)
- Oregano (ground)
- Pumpkin pie spice (mixture)
- Gourmet Italian spice
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.