Spices are a good substitute for salt, and they have some pretty special health benefits all their own. Find out which spice is top dog when it comes to antioxidant power.
When it comes to antioxidant spices, who’s the top dog? The answer may surprise you. Many spices score high on the antioxidant scale, but one steals the prize when it comes to taming free radicals – the clove.
Benefits of Cloves: Are They Antioxidant Superstars?
Researchers at the Miguel Hernandez University discovered that the clove is the antioxidant spice with the most antioxidant punch. Antioxidant potential is measured using a special scale called the ORAC scale developed by the National Institute of Aging. This scale allows foods – including spices – to be compared in terms of their ability to tame free radicals.
How do cloves fare? Their ORAC value is an impressive 3144 units per gram which beats out the second most powerful antioxidant spice – cinnamon. Oregano, tumeric, and parsley also rank high in terms of antioxidant mightiness.
What makes cloves so special in terms of antioxidant power? Cloves are rich in phenolic compounds that give them the ability to fight off free radicals that damage cells and tissues in the body.
Although cloves rank high on the ORAC antioxidant scale, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the healthiest spice on the spice rack. Other factors come into play in determining health – like how well a particular spice is absorbed and how easily the body is able to use it.
Other Health Benefits of Cloves
Cloves are more than just antioxidant superheroes. Clove oil contains a compound called eugenol which has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s used by dentists during dental surgery to kill bacteria and relieve pain when a tooth has to be extracted or a root canal performed.
One study showed that rats exposed to the poison carbon tetrachloride were protected from its tissue damaging effects when they were given clove oil beforehand. Cloves are also a good source of vitamin K and the mineral manganese – and they even contain omega-3 fatty acids.
The Antioxidant Spice Superstars: The Bottom Line?
Clove is certainly a “good for you” spice, but more health benefits can be gained by adding a diversity of spices to food. Cinnamon, oregano, tumeric, and parsley are also good antioxidant spices that have their own unique health properties. Try lightening up on the salt and use these free radical fighting spices to add flavor to food instead – then reap the benefits.