Science behind the Spices


How well do you know the jars in your spice rack? We reach for them to liven up a dish on the stove or to add some much needed flavor to leftovers. But do you know the health benefits you are mixing into your homemade dishes? Get to know some common spices and feel good the next time you add a dash or two to your food.


One would think that with the growing popularity of vampire-inspired movies, books and TV shows that garlic might almost be considered trendy. Besides the legend of keeping vampires away, garlic helps to support immunity and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Whether you are slaying vampires or infections, you don't ever want to be without your garlic.

The Science: Onions, scallions, leeks, chives and garlic are in a group of vegetables known as Allium. The American Institute for Cancer Research has stated that regular consumption of these vegetables helps protect against some forms of cancers. It is the substances found within the Allium vegetables, such as querectin, allicin and organosulfer compounds that continue to studied for their cancer fighting properties.


The smell may bring you back to your trip to Italy where you enjoyed that amazing pasta with marinara to die for. For those of us still dreaming of a strip to Italy, oregano probably only conjures up thoughts of fresh pizza delivered to your front door. 

Who knew that oregano not only smells wonderful, but it is packed with antioxidants -- more so than 27 other culinary herbs. Maybe next time skip the extra cheese and ask for an extra dash of oregano instead.

The Science: Oregano has a high antioxidant level because of all the phenolic acids and flavonoids found within it. An antioxidant is a molecule that stops the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation can lead to a domino effect in a call, causing damage or death to the cell itself. Antioxidants stop the oxidation process and prevent damage and death to your cells.


Life can be a roller coaster ride sometimes and if that ride makes you a bit queasy now and then, ginger may be right for you. For thousands of years, ginger has been used as a natural way to calm that "I'm going to lose my lunch" feeling.

The Science: In addition to being a popular spice for cooking, ginger has been found effective for treating some nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy. The active components of the ginger root are the volatile oils and pungent phenolic compounds. Ginger is on the FDA's Generally Recognized as Safe (GFAS) list, although it does interact with some medications such as warfarin - as always, consult with your healthcare provider.