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Spice Up Your Life and Protect Your Heart

Worried about your heart health but find it hard to resist those delicious high fat meals? A recent study suggests that adding spices to high fat foods may help counteract some of the unhealthy effects on your heart.

The study was conducted at Penn State and was published on June 22, 2011 in The Journal of Nutrition.

Participants in the study included 6 overweight but healthy men between the ages of 30 and 65. The researchers fed the men a high fat, 1,200 calorie meal that consisted of chicken curry, Italian herb bread, and a cinnamon biscuit.

Half of the group had 2 tablespoons of a blend of black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, rosemary, and turmeric added to their meals. The other half of the group consumed the same meal without the added spices.

Following the meal, blood samples were taken at half hour intervals over the course of 3 hours. The men who ate the spiced meals had a 13% increase in antioxidant activity and a 21% decrease in insulin response when compared to the men eating the spice free meals.

The men in the spice group also saw a 30% reduction in triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a fatty substance that builds up in the blood stream and can clog arteries. High triglyceride levels can also be a sign of metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

One week later, the scientists repeated the experiment and saw the same results.

The spices used in the study were chosen because of their high antioxidant activity and potential to reduce oxidative stress.

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