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Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:18

Health benefits of Spices to Human Body

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Spices have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Spices are usually used in foods and beverages for enhance flavor, aroma and color, but they can also protect from acute and chronic diseases. There are some scientific evidence that spices contain anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and glucose and cholesterol lowering activities. Frequent consumption of spicy foods can reduce the risk of death from cancer and ischemic heart and respiratory system diseases. Sri Lanka is the most famous country to the spices. So Sri Lanka is called as “Land of Spices”. Major export spices are cinnamon, black pepper, clove and nutmeg.

Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon (Cinamomum zylanika) is indigenous to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is a highly delicious spice and also it has been prized for its medicinal properties thousand years. Cinnamon contain lot of anti-oxidants such as polyphenol which protect human body from oxidative damages caused by free radicals. Some anti-oxidants that contain in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effect. Cinnamon has an ability to reduce the level of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and triglyceride level in blood while remaining HDL (High Density Lipoprotein). It helps to reduce risk of getting heart diseases. Cinnamon can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin so cinnamon has a blood sugar lowering property. There are scientific evidences which cinnamon has potential to cancer prevention. Cinnamon has ability to reducing cancer cells and some chemicals in cinnamon toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most commonly used spice. Black pepper not only a spice, it used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands years due to high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds. Black pepper contain piperine. Animal studies has shown that piperine has an ability to improve brain function. And also piperine may help to improve blood sugar metabolism. Therefore black pepper helps to reduce blood sugar level. High cholesterol levels in blood directly associated. Scientific studies have shown that black pepper has potential to reduce blood cholesterol level. Active compound in piperine, may have cancer fighting ability. Black pepper may increase the absorption of essential mineral nutrients such as calcium and selenium.

Clove also known as Syzygiyum aromaticum an evergreen plant and major export spice in Sri Lanka. The flower bud of the clove tree use as the spice. In fact most of animal studies found that the compounds in clove may be beneficial for the human health. Clove provide important nutrients such as manganese, vitamin K and vitamin C. Clove contain some anti-oxidants reduce the oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Clove contain eugenol. Eugenol may be beneficial to the liver health by reducing the risk of getting fatty liver. Some compounds found in clove, may help to regulate blood sugar.

Nutmeg is made from the seed Myristica fragrans plant. It is a most popular spice in world wide. Most commonly nutmeg is used for its flavor than the its health benefits. Nutmeg contain powerful compounds that may help to promote overall human health and prevent from diseases. Like other spices nutmeg also contain anti-oxidants which reduce oxidative stress. Some animal studies have shown that nutmeg may have the property to enhance sex drive and performance. Bacteria like Streptococcus mutance and Aggregatibacter actinomycetecomitans can cause to gum diseases and dental cavities. Nutmeg has powerful anti-bacterial effect against these bacteria.

Written by :
Ms. E G Prasadika Sanjeewani Somarathna
Department of Food Science and Technology (Reading),
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

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Read 1260 times Last modified on Tuesday, 25 January 2022 05:36
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