A recent study published in the journal of nutrition found individuals who consumed a mix of six spices with their high fat and carbohydrate meal, had lesser markers of inflammation, than those who did not have the spices in their meal.
The researchers used a blend of black pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander, all of which qualify in the common Indian spice blend called ‘Garam masala,’ used extensively in households. Other spices used in the study were turmeric, basil, ginger, red pepper, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, for the free controlling and randomized study.
While the study specifically doesn’t mention Garam masala, it definitely includes spices that is perhaps present in almost every Indian household including ginger, turmeric, red pepper, and basil at times.
“We can’t say from this study if it was one spice in particular, but this specific blend seemed to be beneficial,” associate professor of nutritional sciences Cony Rodgers was quoted as saying. “If spices are palatable to you, they might be a way to make a high-fat or high-carb meal more healthful.”
Chronic inflammation has been interlinked with poor outcomes like diabetes, cancer, and obesity that reportedly affects 77% of the US population. The researcher says spices like ginger and turmeric among others have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
To conduct the study, researchers recruited 12 men between ages 40-65, with obesity or overweight, and at least one link to cardiovascular diseases.
The chosen group was then randomly fed three versions of a meal high in saturated fat and carbohydrate in three days. One meal had no spice. The second meal has 2 grams of the added spice blend. And the third meal had six grams of the spice blend.
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Blood samples were drawn before and after the meal in an interval of four hours to measure the inflammatory activities.
The researchers found after consuming a meal with six grams of spice, the levels of inflammatory cytokines – a group of immune response protein- were reduced compared to the two other meal variations. The six-gram-figure of spice could be anything from one teaspoon to one tablespoon, depending on how the spices are hydrated.
“Ultimately the gold standard would be to get people eating more healthfully and to lose weight and exercise, but those behavioral changes are difficult and take time,” Rodger said, adding “so in the interim, we wanted to explore whether a combination of spices that people are already familiar with and could fit in a single meal could have a positive effect.”
India’s beloved ‘garam masala’
Garam masala is a quintessential spice that is a must in every Indian household. A pinch of it on savory dishes adds a burst of flavors and aroma, one will keep wanting more.
It is usually made in India in a variety of ways sometimes omiting one spice or adding one more based on preference. Otherwise, it is usually made from a combination of five to six main spices, including nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorns.
If indivisibly noted these spices are already beneficial in their own ways, so goes without saying, a mix of them will be more healthy. Some of the noted health benefits of garam masala are:
- helps with bloating
- Improves digestion
- Boosts antioxidants
- Fights bad breath
- boosts metabolism, thanks to phytonutrients