The Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs, Nature's Richest Sources of Antioxidants
Seasonings are an essential part of virtually anyone's diet, but were you aware of the significant health benefits of spices? Herbs and spices have such rich nutritional value because they're nature's richest sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrient compounds found in virtually all plant foods (and also manufactured in your body).
The primary job of antioxidants is to protect your cells against oxidative stress from free radical damage. Free Radicals are highly-reactive oxygen molecules in your cells, created as a byproduct of your metabolism; a surplus of free radicals is considered to be the primary cause of the aging process.
Protecting yourself against free radicals with antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce the risk of many health problems associated with aging. The benefits of antioxidants include powerful protection against all types of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and many more.
The best way to obtain a wide variety of antioxidants is to eat an extensive selection of antioxidant-rich foods. As a general rule of thumb, deeply-colored or strongly-flavored fruits and vegetables contain the greatest quantity and variety of antioxidants.
However, it's little-known that culinary herbs and spices have far greater concentrations (and variety) of antioxidants than any typical fruit or vegetable. They typically contain a particularly wide variety of antioxidants as well, which makes them effective at fighting many different kinds of free radicals in different parts of your body.
Scientific Evidence for the Antioxidant Benefits of Spices
Almost all spices contain chemicals that help to protect the body from illnesses and, in many cases, can be used as effective treatments for existing diseases. In addition, some of the chemicals found in them act as adaptogens, natural products that increases the body's resistance to stress.
The health benefits of spices becomes quite apparent when you look at studies of different cultures around the world. Typically, people who consume lots of spicy foods on a daily basis also have very low incidences of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and most other degenerative diseases that have been so common in the United States and other western cultures.
For example, in India, the very low rates for these diseases has been attributed to the natives' spicy diet. A typical adult living there consumes almost ten grams of spices per day, compared to one gram or less in a typical Western diet! Research indicates that it's not enough for you to have a just a few spicy meals a week to get the full benefits of spices. If you want to use them for health and to protect yourself effectively, you must consume much larger quantities on a daily basis.
World's Best Source of Antioxidants
Although all spices are good sources of antioxidants, those richest in these substances are allspice, garlic, ginger, clove, cinnamon, lemon balm, oregano, peppermint, sage and thyme. Some, like ginger, contain over 25 different antioxidants all by themselves!
It would be a mistake to assert that any one antioxidant is more powerful than any other, however. Antioxidants work together, and each one has its own specific characteristics and benefits. One antioxidant may work in places in the body that another one can't, and neutralize free radicals that other antioxidants miss. Therefore, getting the widest variety of antioxidants is just as important as how much of any one antioxidant you get. In order to get the most health benefits of spices, it's important to include as many different ones in your diet as possible.
Stan Mrak has had a passion for anti aging nutrition for over 30 years. Visit his website at www.antioxidants-for-health-and-longevity.com for the most practical and useful information on antioxidants anywhere. Discover how antioxidants hold the secret for staying young and avoiding degenerative diseases.