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True or False: Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices

By +Carolyn Richardson on Oct 27, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

Herbs and spices aren’t just for enhancing flavor. Dubbed the “kitchen medicine cabinet” some have been used for centuries to ward off disease, clear infections, and treat symptoms of common ailments. The problem is, there are some beliefs about herbs and spices that are simply not true. Here are some of the most common myths debunked.   

Ginger Eases Nausea?


If you’ve had morning sickness, you’ve likely been given pills, chews, lollypops, or ginger ale to stave off nausea. Multiple studies show ginger can help with nausea. Its effects are due to its ability to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and relieve pain through its active ingredient gingerol. This affect translates to ginger’s ability to assist with pain relief of arthritis, muscle aches, sore throat, constipation and cramps. In animal trials, ginger was found to also lower cholesterol. As little as 1 gram is a suitable dose to help nausea and vomiting. Use the fresh root, capsules or ground ginger to enjoy the health benefits.


Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar? 


Grab the spiced apple cider. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found a group of pre-diabetic men and women with the metabolic syndrome saw a decrease in both their fasting blood glucose as well as their systolic blood pressure. A separate study found cinnamon also lowered blood glucose after a meal in Type 2 diabetics. Other studies have shown reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels in humans consuming 1, 3, or 6 grams per day making cinnamon all good for your heart and your metabolism. 2 teaspoons of cinnamon is equal to about 5 grams. 

Garlic Lowers Cholesterol?


While garlic’s antifungal and antibacterial activity has been confirmed, a review of clinical trials found no beneficial effects on serum cholesterol. However, multiple studies have found an inverse relationship between garlic consumption and the progression of heart disease. That means garlic may promote heart health. Enjoy it fresh, minced or in its powder form in stir fry’s as well as in rice or pasta dishes. Garlic intake in China is higher than the US and Britain, according to a study which found 46% of sample participants consuming at least 6 grams of garlic per week. That’s the equivalent of one garlic clove.

VIDEO: How to Prepare Roasted Garlic

Turmeric Helps Your Acne?


This study found turmeric helps heal wounds and lighten scars. The activity of curcumin, a component of turmeric, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In combination, this would help the appearance and severity of acne. A new study expands turmeric’s medicinal uses against cancer, depression, and obesity. A University of Maryland report suggests consumption between to 1 to 3 grams of turmeric powder per day, while a report indicates that as high as 12 g of curcumin per day was given to humans over 3 months as was tolerated well. Used in many Indian dishes, you can also use it in soups, salads, and casseroles.

Bottom Line: Mix It Up 

Herbs and spices have differing health benefits, but put together is a heart-healthy antioxidant power boost. Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health, led a Penn State study that found a mixture of herbs and spices, including rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika, added to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 percent, increase antioxidant activity in the blood by 13 percent and decreased insulin response by about 20 percent. Indeed getting a healthy cocktail of spices and herbs is a worthy endeavor that will pay dividends you not only taste, but experience for years to come.

Your thoughts...

Do you use herbs and spices to enhance your health?


Fenugreek also helps with insulin resistance.  (Whole seeds have to be cooked before they can be used; powdered fenugreek is available at Arab grocery stores and specialty spice shops.)  I sprinkle it on things such as cottage cheese & fruit; it's quite versatile and not at all a prima donna spice. (But don't take it if you're pregnant.)

Here's a book I find useful:   Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal.




Do both types of cinnamon help with blood sugar levels? I use true cinnamon, known as Ceylon cinnamon,  instead of the more commonly used cassia cinnamon.

According to the aforementioned book, All studies on the health benefits of cinnamon discussed in this book were done on cassia.   It doesn't say said benefits don't apply to Cinnamomum verum, but I guess you have to look elsewhere for an answer.

Thank you for checking.

What does 1-3 grams of tumeric look like? I got it, started dashing it on things. Expensive.

for most things a teaspoon is ca 5 grams.

Original Post by: marauder

What does 1-3 grams of tumeric look like? I got it, started dashing it on things. Expensive.

Hi, To answer your question, 1 teaspoon of Turmeric powder is a little over 2 grams. 

"Garlic intake in China is higher than the US and Britain, according to a study which found 46% of sample participants consuming at least 6 grams of garlic per week."

Which matters because?  In terms of life expectancy, U.S. ranks 38th, PRoC ranks 63rd (Taiwan ranks much better though).  What data point makes your statement relevant?

Scout, suggest a correlation between life expectancy in PRoC and garlic consumption is too broad a scientific leap. There are many, obvious reasons that life expectancy in China is less than in the USA.

Turmeric is much cheaper at your local Indian grocery store. $2.00 for approximately 8 oz. compared to $5.00 or $6.00 for 2.2 oz. at the usual American store.

Sorry, but I gobbled tumeric by the bottleful to try and ease a skin condition and it had zero effect.  I like it and eat it though.

I use 1TBS of Honey in hot water first thing in the a.m. & last thing at p.m. to ward off acid reflux or GERD. Any amount less than 1 TBS of honey does not help me. P.S. expect humongous burps & a little flatulence, but that is what your body needs to give u relief from this painful condition.

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