Spicy Foods Reduce Fatty Meals' Effects

September 08, 2011

Spicing up your meal could mean more than just adding a bit of flavor and feeling more satisfied. It could also mean lessening the effect of fat in your food

Spicing up your meal could mean more than just adding a bit of flavor and feeling more satisfied; a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that adding spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon, may protect against the harmful effects of eating meals high in fat or calories.

Typically after eating a high-fat meal triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood are increased, but researchers from Penn State found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced the triglyceride response compared to a similar spice-less meal.

The small study analyzed the blood of six healthy, but overweight (BMI 25-27) men after they ate the control meal (1200 calories and 49 grams of fat) without added spices, and again after they ate the same meal with added spices.

The meal consisted of coconut chicken and white rice entree, cheese bread, and a dessert biscuit; the spiced meal was nutritionally identical but also used a spice mixture to create a chicken curry, Italian herb bread, and a cinnamon biscuit. The spices used were rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika – these spices were selected for their potent antioxidant activity.

Results were notable; the spiced meal reduced blood levels of insulin and triglycerides by 21 and 31 percent respectively, compared to the control meal. The spiced meal also increased antioxidant blood measures. Foods high in antioxidants are believed to help support optimal health over time. The ORAC scale is a way to measure foods antioxidant activity.

SupermarketGuru suggests you head to the grocery store, or open your pantry and start using more spices! Of the spices used in the study, cinnamon, turmeric, and oregano had the highest ORAC values. And if you’re worried about having a reactions to the spices, researchers reported no effect on the patients' enjoyment of their meals.