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A dash of spice to protect your health

September 14th, 2011 | no comments

spicesIf you haven’t already heard that you should be cutting back on salt, I would have to guess that you’re living under a rock! For those of you addicted to the salt shaker, this may sound like bad news, but it’s actually great news! This means you’ll be encouraged to use spices (rather than salt) to flavor your food. Before you say “great…bring on the garlic salt!”, that’s not the type of spice I’m talking about! I’m talking good old-fashioned unsalted spices like cumin, sage, basil, cinnamon and ginger.

Spices happened to have extremely high ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) levels, which is a measure of the amount of antioxidants in food. Why should you care? Diseases such as certain cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease, are thought to be caused in part by oxidative stress. Antioxidants can help offer some protection against oxidative stress! Take a look at the list below to see how your favorite spices score!

Name of spice     ORAC value
(per 100 grams)

Cloves, ground          314,446
Cinnamon, ground       267,536
Oregano, dried             200,129
Turmeric, ground        159,277

Cumin seed                  76,800

Parsley, dried               74,349

Basil, dried                   67,553

Curry                            48,504

Sage                             32,004

Mustard seed               29,257

Ginger, ground             28,811

Black pepper               27,618

Thyme, fresh                27,426

Marjoram, fresh           27,297

Chili powder                23,636

Even more good news— scientists estimate that you can enjoy the health benefits of antioxidants by consuming as little as 3000-5000 ORAC units per day! Take note that the above ORAC values are for a 100 gram-portion of spices (about 3.5 ounces). No, I’m not suggesting you douse tonight’s vegetable stir-fry with 3.5 ounces of cumin, but a dash of cinnamon in your morning oatmeal and a sprinkle of basil in your marinara sauce can really add up! Not to mention all of the other antioxidant-rich foods that I know you’re eating every day, like fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains!

Now, go spice things up in that kitchen of yours!





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