Monday, November 16, 2009

The Most Powerful Nutrients

by Tom Furman

Would you like to consume a source of nutritional power that may make you healthier, leaner, and in less pain? If the answer is "yes" then look no further than your spice rack.

The top antioxidant foods including all fruit and vegetables are spices. A new study conducted in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development is testing how much our bodies actually benefit from eating high-antioxidant spices. How quickly these antioxidants can neutralize an oxidizing agent, is called the ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
Do not confuse a higher ORAC value with being better.s Always eat a diet which consists of a variety of fresh foods including fruits, vegetables, and spices.

Here are some of the top spices.

1. Ginger--(Zingiber officinale) One teaspoon of ground ginger has as much antioxidants as a cup of spinach. They have been used for arthritis, bursitis; motion sickness, nausea, and it is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

2. Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are dried flower buds which are native to Indonesia. Cloves are used as spice all over the world. They are rich in antioxidants, and been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as improve insulin function.

3. Cinnamon (Cinamomum aromaticum) is a spice derived from the bark of a small evergreen tree. One teaspoon of cinnamon has more antioxidants than several cups fresh vegetables. Adding a little cinnamon to your diet can also help to moderate the blood glucose elevations that occur after a meal. Sprinkling some onto your cereal in the morning or into your coffee may be just what the doctor ordered.

4. Oregano (Origanum vulgaris) A popular herb used in Italian and Greek cooking, it is a high in antioxidant activity and has been used to stave off colds and flu. Oregano has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Oregano has more than forty times the antioxidant power of an apple.

5. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant from the ginger family and is native to South East Asia. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is thought to act as a strong pain reliever (by inhibiting the cox-2 enzyme). Curcumin may be useful for the treatment of arthritis as well for Alzheimer's disease, where it is believed to inhibit the formation of amyloid plaques. It’s currently being studied for its role in slowing down the growth of cancer cells as well as its ability to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

6. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) has a long history of use in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Recently, researchers have discovered important volatile oil components of thyme that bring about its healing effects. They are known to include carvacolo, borneol, but most importantly, thymol.

This is only a partial list of the top spices. The wonderful thing is, as you become more adept at spicing your food, the more consistent you will be at consuming these powerful foods. They are cheap, easily accessible, and improve the quality of your meals.

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