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November 4, 2014 by MAE CHAN
Spices and Herbs Could Transform The Taste Buds of Millions And Reduce Hydrogenated Fat and Processed Salt Intake

Processed food contains large amounts of partially hydrogenated fats and processed salts, often as preservatives so that food lasts longer. They are used to mask the lack of flavour in food which has become bland through over-processing. If we could incorporate more herb and spices into processed foods, it may lead to a health revolution and kick start the taste buds of millions into enjoying healthful foods.

Most health concerns arise from frequent consumption of heavily processed foods such as biscuits, meat paste, pasta sauce and frozen dinners, which often contain large amounts of food additives.

Salt is an excellent preservative that prevents growth of bacteria, adds flavour, enhances colour and gives processed foods a firm texture. The problem is that the modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.

Many processed foods also contain added sugar. It may be listed as high fructose corn syrup, maltose, brown sugar, honey, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, lactose, fructose, dextrose, sucrose or cane sugar on the ingredient list of food labels.

These sugars improve colour, maintain freshness, enhance flavour, act as preservatives and make foods more appetizing.

In addition to causing dental health problems, sugars from processed foods add to total calorie intake.

Fats give processed foods the crispy or moist texture, rich aroma and gratifying taste often associated with fast foods, baked products and snack foods. As your intake of heavily processed foods increases, so does your intake of calories from fat. Extra calories from fat can cause weight gain and obesity, which may increase your risk of breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

How can herbs and spices help?

Dr James Hill, of the University of Colorado found that when food is properly seasoned with herbs and spices, consumers believed that low fat and salt options were just as tastier as the less healthy versions.

Herbs and spices hold much higher antioxidant values than foods and they can add incredible taste especially when used correctly with the right dishes.

He said they may make them more acceptable to people who struggle to shed the pounds with long term dietary changes. They're also powerful allies in disease prevention.

Spices like turmeric and saffron are inherent with medicinal properties that, when incorporated to our diet from an early stage strengthens our bodies against invasion of toxins, bacteria and viruses.

A seperate study found people using herbs and spices consumed an average of 966 mg/day of salt less. We're talking about processed table salt. It takes just half an hour for one salty meal to significantly impair the arteries’ ability to pump blood around the body, alarming research shows.

Meanwhile, research on cinammon indicates the spice may beat diabetes by helping improve blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.

And Dr David Heber, of the University of California, Los Angeles, shared his research showing a spice mixture added to hamburger meat helps protect fat from oxidation.

All the studies were presented in the journal Nutrition Today.

Professor Johanna Dwyer, of Tufts University who is editor of the journal, said: "We now understand spices and herbs have a meaningful role to play in bringing flavour to the forefront of today's health and wellness conversations.

"It will take all of us working together, from scientists to chefs and product developers to policy makers, before we can really begin to improve public health through flavourful eating."

Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.

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