Spices and Antioxidants

When you hear the word “antioxidants”, you probably think of food like beans, berries or dark chocolate. But perhaps you didn’t know that some herbs and spices include antioxidants as well.

Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules at the cellular level. The process of oxidation encourages the development of “free radicals” – cells that correlate with the presence of disease. Antioxidants also have been shown to help improve immune function and to lower the risk of cancer and other serious diseases. And although antioxidant-rich foods like berries, red wine, vegetables and dark chocolate receive a lot of the credit, few people realize that some spices are antioxidant heroes, too.

Take for example, ground cloves, oregano leaves, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and yellow mustard seed. All are commonly used spices that help develop flavor and bring food to life. And now we know that all of those spices provide a higher concentration of antioxidants per 100g than dark chocolate, wine - even blueberries! Even better: these spices are calorie-free, as opposed to dark chocolate or red wine.

The National Institutes on Health suggests that Americans build antioxidant-rich substances into their diets to stay healthy and fight disease. It’s easy to do that with the use of common spices that add both flavor and health to your diet.