Spice it up; variety is the spice of life! Cinnamon helps to slow gastric emptying, which means that it can reduce the effects of food on blood sugar levels. In one study, healthy individuals fed rice pudding with 6 grams of cinnamon had a significantly lower rise in their blood sugar levels (by delaying the passage of food from the stomach) after eating compared to a control group that was fed the rice pudding without cinnamon. Cinnamon has significant antioxidant properties and has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in laboratory animals.
One of the most significant effects of dietary spices may turn out to be their ability to inhibit the oxidative degradation of fats (particularly in meats) that can occur after cooking. One study has shown that adding a rich spice mixture composed of ground cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary (which is actually an herb), ginger, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder to hamburger meat before cooking reduced the concentrations of malondialdehyde (an organic compound that results from lipid oxidation, is carcinogenic, and causes mutations) in the blood and urine after eating. In fact, spices have the highest known concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols of any commonly eaten food. These polyphenols not only inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol after eating high-fat cooked foods but also stimulate the DNA repair mechanisms in the body.
When possible, choose spices that say USDA organic on the label.
*This brief summary contains copyrighted material from SuperFoods HealthStyle by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews. Copyright © 2006 by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews Inc., published by HarperCollins; and from SuperFoods Rx For Pregnancy by Steven Pratt, M.D. Copyright © 2013 by SuperFoods Partners, LLC, published by Wiley. All rights reserved.