According to a recently published article in the The Journal of Nutrition, there is strong evidence that highly spiced foods could have a beneficial effect on triglycerides and insulin levels after meals.
When people eat high fat meals, the level of triglycerides in the blood increases. When this is a regular occurrence or if the level is very elevated, the risk of heart disease goes up.
So, how is shaking oregano on top of pizza going to help?
Spices, it turns out, are pretty strong antioxidants at least in the test tube. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress, which many scientists feel is one of the causes of cell damage that leads to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
So researchers set up an experiment to see if adding spices would have any effect on triglyceride and insulin levels.
The study was small: six overweight males without diabetes between the ages of 30 and 65 ate a test meal and a control meal on two separate days a week apart. Each time they had their blood drawn before the meal and every 30 minutes for 3 hours after eating the meal.
The subjects were served an identical meal of chicken curry, Italian herb bread and a cinnamon biscuit—with and without 2 tablespoons of a spice mix containing rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika.
The two tablespoons of spice mix equaled the same amount of antioxidants found in 5 ounces of red wine or 1.4 ounces of chocolate (and none of the calories or carbohydrate.) Despite the large amount of spices, the meals were well tolerated by the people participating in the study (i.e., no gastrointestinal upset).
- Antioxidant activity in the blood was increased by 13 percent.
- Insulin response decreased by 20 percent.
- Triglyceride levels decreased by 31 percent.
Will increasing your spice intake work? We don’t know yet. This was only one study and it was very small and not conducted on people with diabetes. But spices have very few downsides. So pour on the garlic, but skip the pepperoni.