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Indian curry spices curb stress

2 October 2011 No Comment

Adding Indian curry spices like turmeric and cinnamon to a high-fat meal could help reduce oxidative stress and thus thwart the risk of chronic disease, according to a new study.

“Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood,” said Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State, who led the study.

“If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased. We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 per cent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added.”

West and her colleagues prepared meals on two separate days for six men between the ages of 30 and 65 who were overweight, but otherwise healthy. The researchers added two tablespoons of culinary spices to each serving of the test meal, which consisted of chicken curry, Italian herb bread, and a cinnamon biscuit. The control meal was identical, except that spices were not included. The team drew blood from the participants every 30 minutes for three hours.

“In the spiced meal, we used rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika,” said Ann Skulas-Ray, postdoctoral fellow. “We selected these spices because they had potent antioxidant activity previously under controlled conditions in the lab.”

When the meal contained a blend of antioxidant spices, antioxidant activity in the blood was increased by 13 per cent and insulin response decreased by about 20 per cent.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition.

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