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Spices Make a Healthy Comeback

Brits spice up home cooking in credit crunch
Herbs and spices revealed as antioxidant heroes

As the credit crunch continues, new research suggests it’s getting hot in Britain’s kitchens with sales of dried herbs and spices up 11.7% on this time last year.

44% of Brits are eating out less, according to the study by Schwartz, and in a bid to keep home cooking exciting a quarter of us are using more herbs and spices than we did a year ago.

According to the experts in herbs and spices, four out of ten adults in the UK are experimenting with new flavours in food. Yet most of us remain unaware that many herbs and spices naturally contain antioxidants, a term often associated with fruit and vegetables such as blueberries, red grapes and broccoli.

When it comes to antioxidant prowess, spices such as oregano and cinnamon are a must-have for any healthy menu.

Studies have shown that herbs and spices are a surprising source of antioxidants with one teaspoon of oregano containing a similar amount of antioxidants as a cup (80g) of red grapes or 80g of broccoli and one teaspoon of ground cinnamon equivalent to 80g blueberries .

In the UK, while eight out of ten adults regard dried herbs and spices as store cupboard staples, four out of ten don’t know what antioxidants are.

Antioxidants are bioactive compounds in foods. They help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals we’re exposed to everyday and may well contribute to improving and maintaining health.

Epidemiological studies have shown that a diet rich in antioxidants, particularly through adequate intake of fruit and vegetables, is associated with increased blood concentrations of antioxidants and numerous health benefits, including reduced cardiovascular risk and possibly increased life expectancy.

For example, a longitudinal study in 805 elderly men showed that daily intake of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and tea for instance, was associated with decreased cardiovascular risk and increased longevity.

The McCormick Science Institute (MSI) is an independent research organisation sponsored by McCormick & Company, Inc. the global leader in manufacture and distribution of herbs and spices, known in the UK with the Schwartz brand. The MSI’s mission is to advance the science of health benefits of culinary herbs and spices. Herbs and spices such as oregano, cinnamon, ginger and paprika are the subject of studies and extensive research identified and supported by the MSI.

Hamed Faridi, Ph.D. Vice President of Research &Development, McCormick said; “Throughout history herbs and spices have been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes – flavour and function. They contain a wide variety of biologically active compounds and as a result many are being studied for their potential health benefits. Interestingly dried herbs and spices do not contain the water that makes up a significant part of other antioxidant-rich foods which means they deliver high levels of natural antioxidants.

“Derived from plants, most herbs and spices are also rich in phytonutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids, which may possess further health-promoting properties beyond protection against oxidation.”

Nutritionists have long recommended herbs and spices as a way to add flavour without fat, salt or sugar – making it easier to enjoy a healthy balanced diet in line with dietary guidelines.

Nigel Denby, TV Nutritionist and Dietician, said: “Including certain herbs and spices in our cooking is a great way to increase our intake of antioxidants. Research suggests that when used with fruit and vegetables, the antioxidant properties of these foods can be enhanced. Natural, convenient and low-calorie, they are also a sensible alternative to sugar and salt and therefore really complement a healthy balanced diet.”

According to research by Schwartz, UK market leaders in dried herbs and spices, basil is the nation’s favourite when it comes to herbs and spices followed by oregano, curry, cinnamon and ginger.

Anthony Palmer, UK Market Head, from Schwartz commented; “Basil is a really versatile herb often associated with Italian cooking, hence its popularity. Herbs and spices are a fantastic way to bring variety and excitement to everyday cooking. Typically a store cupboard staple, they are a great addition for cooking whether you’re making a snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Consumer insights show many of us find everyday cooking really boring - herbs and spices can make all the difference, particularly in credit crunch times when we are spending less on eating out in favour of home cooking.”

Research into the health benefits of spices is still in its infancy though on the evidence available it would seem mealtimes are set to get a whole lot spicier.


For more information please contact:

Louisa Revill or Claire Pay at Tonic Life Communications,
Tel: 020 7798 9922 / 020 7798 9900 Email:

Notes To Editors:

• Consumer omnibus survey conducted by ID Factor week commencing 19 January 2009 amongst a nationally representative sample of 1000 UK adults
• Schwartz Herbs and Spices are available from supermarkets nationwide.
• For further information visit
• Antioxidant levels are measured in ORAC units (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). ORAC studies have shown many herbs and spices contain relatively high levels of antioxidants. Research suggests that 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units need to be consumed per day to have an impact on health.
• Antioxidant comparisons of spices and other foods (see below and next page)


Food-----------Serving size (tsp = teaspoon)----------ORAC (µmol Trolox Equivalent/serving)

CRANBERRIES--------80 g-------------------------------7667
CLOVES, GROUND-----1 tsp------------------------------6603
CINNAMON, GROUND---1 tsp------------------------------6153
RASPBERRIES--------80 g-------------------------------6103
POMEGRANATE JUICE--8 oz-------------------------------5853
BLUEBERRIES--------80 g-------------------------------5242
MILK CHOCOLATE*----one bar----------------------------3595
ALMONDS------------80 g-------------------------------3563
TURMERIC, GROUND----1 tsp-----------------------------3504
CLOVES, GROUND----1/2 tsp-----------------------------3302
CINNAMON, GROUND--1/2 tsp-----------------------------3077
STRAWBERRIES------80 g--------------------------------2862
TEA----------------8 oz-------------------------------2707
CHERRIES----------80 g--------------------------------2692
RED CABBAGE-------80 g--------------------------------1802
TURMERIC, GROUND--1/2 tsp-----------------------------1752
ASPARAGUS cooked, boiled, drained--80 g---------------1720
CUMIN SEED--------1 tsp-------------------------------1613
BEETROOT----------80 g--------------------------------1414
OREGANO DRIED-----1 tsp-------------------------------1401
CURRY POWDER ***--1 tsp-------------------------------1320
BROCCOLI cooked---80 g--------------------------------1242
SPINACH-----------80 g--------------------------------1212
LETTUCE-----------80 g--------------------------------1158
RED GRAPES--------80 g--------------------------------1008
KIWIFRUIT---------80 g--------------------------------968
CUMIN SEED--------1/2 tsp-----------------------------806
OREGANO, DRIED----1/2 tsp-----------------------------701
SWEET RED PEPPER sauteed--80 g------------------------678
CURRY POWDER ***--1/2 tsp-----------------------------660
BLACK PEPPER------1 tsp-------------------------------580
CARROTS-----------80 g--------------------------------533
GREEN PEPPER------80 g--------------------------------492
BASIL, DRIED------1 tsp-------------------------------473
GINGER, GROUND----1 tsp-------------------------------461
PAPRIKA-----------1 tsp-------------------------------439
TOMATOES----------80 g--------------------------------437
CRUSHED CHILLIES--1 tsp-------------------------------425
ROSEMARY**--------1 tsp-------------------------------394
PARSLEY, DRIED----1 tsp-------------------------------297
BLACK PEPPER------1/2 tsp-----------------------------290
THYME** ----------1 tsp-------------------------------262
CANTALOUPE *------80 g--------------------------------250
BASIL, DRIED------1/2 tsp-----------------------------236
GINGER, GROUND----1/2 tsp-----------------------------231
PAPRIKA-----------1/2 tsp-----------------------------220
CRUSHED CHILLIES--1/2 tsp-----------------------------213
ROSEMARY**--------1/2 tsp-----------------------------197
EGGPLANT cooked, boiled, drained, without salt --80 g--196
GARLIC POWDER ----1 tsp--------------------------------187
PARSLEY, DRIED----1/2 tsp------------------------------149
THYME** ----------1/2 tsp------------------------------131
WATERMELON--------80 g---------------------------------114
GARLIC POWDER-----1/2 tsp------------------------------93

SOURCE: Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods – 2007. Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA, November 2007.

* Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2004;52:4026-4037.
** Centre for Phytochemistry and Pharmacology, Southern Cross University, Australia.
*** Mc CORMICK USA Laboratory. January 2009.

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