Do spices have any health benefits?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
What can fight cancer, reduce pain and inflammation, protect your heart and brain, knock out bacteria, and rev up your love life? It’s Spice Man, the superhero in your pantry. Here are some things you can do with tasty spices:
  • Control your blood lipids (triglycerides and cholesterol) and reduce your insulin levels by spicing up your meals with turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika.
  • Ease tendonitis with the anti-inflammation properties of curcumin.
  • Improve circulation and reduce the risk of stroke with ginger. Green-ginger iced tea is nice, but fresh from the ginger root is best.
  • Fight cancer with a combination of horseradish, mustard, and broccoli.
  • Battle bacteria with capsaicin, the hot in jalapeno peppers. Capsaicin kills off ulcer-causing stomach bacteria while reducing your appetite and boosting your metabolism.
Instead of salt, flavor your food with antioxidant-rich herbs and spices. Research has shown that oregano may fight prostate cancer cells; rosemary helps protect against brain aging, which may help prevent dementia; thyme may suppress the kind of body-wide inflammation associated with chronic diseases; cinnamon helps lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose (helpful to prevent heart disease and diabetes); and turmeric fights inflammation and pain. If you want to spice things up between the sheets, reach for saffron, which may boost sexual function.
Jill Weisenberger
Nutrition & Dietetics

Herbs and spices are a terrific calorie-free, sodium-free way to add flavor to your food and take care of your health at the same time. They contain the same types of disease fighters and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Use both fresh and dried seasonings. A few studies show that cinnamon might help with cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. Curcumin, the source of the spice turmeric’s bright yellow color, may offer protection against cancers of the mouth, stomach, colon, skin and liver. Ginger may beat off cancer-causing compounds, and garlic might kill bacteria and viruses and decrease blood clotting. The herbs rosemary and oregano are antioxidants. These are just a few examples. Aim for variety just the way you should with fruits and vegetables. Abundance is key. Fill your plates with fruits and vegetables and season them with herbs and spices.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Certain spices have significant health benefits. Watch the video to see which ones to always keep in your pantry.

Continue Learning about Health Value Of Foods

Health Value Of Foods

Health Value Of Foods

A healthy diet is rich in foods with high nutritional value, providing your body with the vitamins, minerals and other food nutrients it needs to protect against disease and maintain a healthy weight. To identify healthy foods, it...

's important to read nutrition labels and know the source of your food. Products advertised as whole-grain, organic or fortified may not necessarily be healthy for you. Find out how to get the most health value from various fruits, nuts, spices, oils and vegetables -- and learn which types of red meat and processed foods to avoid -- with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.