Spices are a rich source of polyphenols, which means we should all be eating more of them. Polyphenols are powerful anti-oxidants that neutralize the free radicals formed by constant sun exposure and anti-microbial agents that are plants’ primary defense mechanism against microbiological attack. By ingesting foods that contain high levels of polyphenols, humans boost their immune systems, reduce cellular inflammation, and maintain an optimal balance between the good and bad microbes that live in our digestive tracts.
Adding more spices to your diet is one way to increase the number of polyphenols entering your body on a regular basis, although, as Dr. Barry Sears explains in The Mediterranean Zone, you need to have continual daily intake in order to benefit in the long term, since polyphenols are fully metabolized within 24 hours of being taken into the body.
Here is a list of the top 5 spices that rank highest in terms of polyphenol content, making them the ones that you should try hardest to incorporate into your diet. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorption capacity, which estimates the spice’s anti-oxidant ability. These values come from The Mediterranean Zone.
Oregano, dried -- 175,295 ORAC/100 grams
Oregano is synonymous with Italian foods, which make pizza and pasta sauces the obvious choice for how to use it. But oregano is also delicious stirred into scrambled eggs, vegetable soups, salad dressings, and sprinkled over sautéed vegetables.