According to new study, spices and herbs not only add flavour to food, but also helps boost heart health. According to nutritionists, the antioxidant-rich ingredients help improve triglyceride levels and other blood lipids. Generally triglyceride levels shoot up after eating a high-fat meal, which in-turn increases the risk of heart disease.
However, if a high antioxidant-rich spice blend is included into the meal, the triglyceride levels may reduce by 30 percent, in comparison to eating the same meal without the spice blend.
The Researchers took into consideration three categories of studies – spice blends, cinnamon and garlic. For instance, they looked into various cinnamon studies on both diabetics and non-diabetics. It was found that cinnamon helped diabetics by reducing cholesterol and other blood lipids considerably, but, cinnamon did not have as much effect on non-diabetics.
The garlic studies reviewed were inconclusive. Across the studies, the researchers noticed an 8 percent decrease in total cholesterol levels with garlic consumption, apart from 38 percent decrease in risk of heart diseases in adults over 50 years of age.
In the study conducted, meals were prepared on two separate days for six men of ages 30 and 65, who were over-weight, but otherwise healthy. The antioxidant culinary spice blend included by the researchers were garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, ginger, turmeric and black pepper to the test meal.
The researchers observed the participants for three hours after every meal through blood tests every 30 minutes. It was noticed that the antioxidant activity in the blood improved 13 percent after the men ate the test meal rich in antioxidant culinary spices and herbs and it helped in preventing cardiovascular diseases, in comparison to those who did not.
Apart from these spices, few herbs that Ayurveda recommends for improving heart health are:
Alfalfa: Alfalfa can be taken in the form of juice, and has been found to be very effective in most arterial problems and heart diseases. The juice of fresh leaves of this plant can be used, but, as it is very strong and potent, it can be taken with carrot juice combination, and this intensifies the benefits of each juice.
Arjuna: The bark of the plant and preparations made from it, have considerable stimulant action on the heart. It is often considered as a cardiac tonic. As a heart stimulant, the decoction of thick portion of the bark made with milk is administered to the patient every morning on empty stomach, or, its powder in doses of 0.75 to 2gms is used with milk and jiggery.
Indian Gooseberry (Amla): Indian gooseberry is an effective remedy for heart disease. It tones up functions of all organs of the body, builds health and destroys disease causing elements, and builds energy.
Kantakari: Kantakari is also known as Indian Solanum. The drug is used in treating heart ailments, chest pain and other muscular pains. The herb is used in the form of confection, decoction (15ml to 60ml) or juice (2ml to 8ml)
Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm is a perennial herb from mint family. It is used alone or as part of various multi-herb combination products. As the herb is effective in controlling palpitations and high blood pressure, it helps in improving overall heart health too.