Common cooking spices can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes

In a new study, men who added a few common cooking spices to a high-carb meal had significantly lower triglyceride and insulin levels. This finding has significant meaning for anyone seeking to reduce their risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes.

I’ll tell you which spices you should add to your cooking…and just how much you need in a moment. (Hint: It’s not that much.)

But first, let’s back up…

Herbs and spices flavor the world

For thousands of years, many ancient cultures around the world have used herbs and spices as staples in both cooking and natural medicine.

Herbs are defined as the fresh, dried leaves of mostly green-leafed plants. And spices consist of the flowers, fruit, seeds, bark, and roots of plants that range in a variety of colors, from brown to black to red. In general, spices have a more pungent flavor than herbs.

Some plants provide both herbs and spices. Take the plant Coriandrum sativum, for example. We use the leaves as the herb, cilantro, and we use the seed as the spice, coriander.

Of course, we don’t have pseudo-pharmaceutical dosing information for herbs and spices. For example, as I explained yesterday, studies show cinnamon helps control blood sugar. But due to a lack of clinical protocols, we don’t have exact dosing guidelines for it. In other words, we don’t know precisely how much or how often people should take it, based on age, weight, etc. to get blood sugar within a certain range.

That’s one reason I always recommend never going it alone when you have Type II diabetes — whether you’re using natural approaches or mainstream ones. (However, for the record, metformin is the only drug I ever recommend for the management of Type II diabetes. And it also actually derives from an ancient herbal remedy called Goat’s Rue.)

Even though we don’t have dosing guidelines, we do have centuries of records and recipes from China, India and other ancient civilizations for the use of herbs and spices.

When it comes to adding herbs and spices to your cooking, I find you can use them to suit your taste. And when it comes to natural medicine, several modern scientific studies are now beginning to confirm the value of herbs and spices. In fact, scientists at Penn State recently observed the metabolic benefits of adding several common spices to meals.

Spices lower triglycerides and insulin response

For this study, researchers prepared meals on two separate days for six overweight, but healthy men between the ages of 30 and 65.

On both days, meals consisted of chicken, rice, bread, and a cookie.

Of course, eating a carb-heavy meal like this one can cause a spike in triglycerides (blood fats). And research links high triglycerides with an increased risk of heart disease.

(I was pleased to see the researchers look at triglycerides  beyond the tired, old cholesterol myth  as a possible contributor to heart disease.)

On the first day, the men ate a bland meal, without spices. On the second day, the group ate the same meal, except this time, it was prepared with two tablespoons of common cooking spices.

The researchers followed the participants for three hours after each meal, testing blood levels every 30 minutes. Turns out, the men had 30 percent lower triglyceride levels after eating the meal prepared with spices.

Plus, the men’s insulin response decreased by 20 percent after the spiced meal.

Last, but not least, after eating the spiced meal, the men experienced a 13 percent increase in antioxidant activity, suggesting that spices can help prevent not only cardiovascular diseases, but other chronic diseases as well.

So, which spices went into the meal?

They weren’t anything exotic  just rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder, and paprika. The researchers selected those common spices as they had previously shown potent antioxidant activity under controlled conditions in the lab.

It looks like adding these spices to your regular cooking could help your body metabolize sugar and fat.

Of course, at this time of year, spices make a traditional and pleasing addition to just about any dish. Try adding some cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg to your beverages and meals to pack a punch of flavor, together a lot of health benefits. You can even add these popular spices to eggnog, mulled wine, hot rum, coffee (Irish or otherwise), and other holiday delicacies.

For more information on how to naturally prevent and reverse Type II diabetes, check out my Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. I’m putting the final touches on it now — look for its release in the coming weeks!


P.S. On Friday, I’ll tell you about yet another popular spice shown to protect you against the debilitating effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Stay tuned!



A High Antioxidant Spice Blend Attenuates Postprandial Insulin and Triglyceride Responses and Increases Some Plasma Measures of Antioxidant Activity in Healthy, Overweight Men. Journal of Nutrition, 2011; 141 (8): 1451