Study leader Sheila West of Pennsylvania State University, says eating a diet rich in spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body's negative responses to eating high-fat meals.
"Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood," West says in a statement. "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 percent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added."
West and colleagues prepared meals on two separate days for six men ages 30-65 who were overweight but otherwise healthy.
The researchers added two tablespoons of culinary spices -- rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika -- 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 it used no spices.
The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, indicate for those who ate the meal that contained a blend of antioxidant spices, antioxidant activity in the blood was increased by 13 percent and insulin response decreased by about 20 percent.