Sunday, April 25, 2010

Can spices make hamburgers healthier?

There's a really interesting study at UCLA that I want to reveal. Researchers added polyphenol-rich spices to burgers during grilling to see if their antioxidant content may reduce the content of compounds linked to heart disease and possible cancer. The study taps into the promotion of the antioxidant-activity of spices. Herbs and spices often come out on top when scientists measure the antioxidant activity of common foods. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 84, pp. 95-135) published in 2006 stated that the top 5 highest antioxidant content foods were indeed spices - cloves, oregano leaf, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon.

In this study, 11 healthy volunteers consumed either burgers seasoned with a spice blend, or a plain burger in a randomised manner. Malondialdehyde (MDA) in the burger, and in the urine and blood of the participants was used to measure the degree of lipid oxidation. Levels of MDA were reduced by 71 per cent in the spiced burger, compared with the plain burger, and this was associated with a 49 per cent reduction in urine levels of MDA following consumption of the spiced burger, compared with the plain burger. “This study showed that spices that are rich in antioxidants may be useful when cooking meat products to reduce the formation of lipid-peroxidation products,” wrote researchers at UCLA's Center for Human Nutrition.

Adding spices to foods is not only a great way to increase your enjoyment of foods, but it's a secret defense to protect your body as well. Here are some secrets to leverage the superpower of spices:

  1. Add some cinnamon to your oatmeal or even brownies.
  2. Consider baking ginger snaps (loaded with ginger, cinnamon and even a dash of turmeric) instead of chocolate chip cookies
  3. Spice up your fish with seseame and ginger; paprika and curry on your chicken and cinnamon to your pork.
  4. Try making up your own salad dressing with ginger, sesame, soy, turmeric and olive oil.
  5. Spice up your veggies with some chili powder.
  6. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on your apples