The next time you order Indian take-out, ask for extra spicy. The burn factor could protect your heart by reducing the fat and insulin levels in your blood. Spices associated with traditional Indian curries—such as turmeric and ginger—are not the only ones that may act as more than just flavor-boosters. Garlic, oregano, paprika, and rosemary all hold potential as future medical treatments.
In a recent study, researchers tested the effect of spices on healthy overweight men. They prepared two meals—one bland and without spices, and the other heavily spiced (containing about one tablespoon of a mix of spices). The spicy meal decreased the volunteers’ triglyceride by one-third. Elevated levels of triglycerides—a type of fat found in the bloodstream—are associated with heart disease.
In addition, the volunteers’ insulin levels decreased by 20 percent. Keeping both of these low could decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
This study, however, did not determine whether spices could provide long-term protection against disease. Future research will also look at which spices and amounts are most effective. The results, though, show that traditional healing methods, such as the Indian Ayurveda system, could lead to new ways of improving your health while satisfying your taste buds.