McCormick Science Institute

MSI Funded Research on Spice Blend Consumption, Insulin Response, and Antioxidant Bioavailability

Skulas-Ray A, Smith D, Kris-Etherton P, Vanden Heuvel J, Klein L, and West, S


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MSI Team

May 2010-- A pilot study, funded by the McCormick Science Institute was presented at the 2010 Experimental Biology Meeting.The study found that six men, who consumed a highly spiced meal, had lower postprandial insulin responses and increased plasma antioxidant capacity (hydrophilic ORAC) compared to baseline. Plasma glucose and lipophilic ORAC values were not affected by the spice blend. (Link to full study)

Culinary spices have among the highest in vitro oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of all foods. No published studies have examined the time course of postprandial ORAC after spice consumption, and few have examined effects of spices on insulin, glucose, and triglycerides.

We assessed the effects of adding 14 g of a high ORAC spice blend (cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and turmeric) to a standardized meal in 6 healthy middle-aged men in a randomized, placebo controlled, crossover design.

Prior to testing, subjects consumed a low ORAC diet for 48 hours. Spiced test meals (1200 kcal) consisted of a chicken and rice curry, herbed bread, and dessert pastry. Blood was sampled pre-meal, 30 min after the first bite of food, and then every 30 min for 3 hours (8 samples).

The addition of spices significantly attenuated postprandial insulin responses (p = 0.003) and significantly increased plasma hydrophilic ORAC values (p = 0.03). These effects remained significant when adjusted for pre-treatment values. Glucose and lipophilic ORAC were not affected by the spice blend. This work confirms that adding spices to a meal may attenuate postprandial insulin response, and we are the first to report an increase in plasma hydrophilic ORAC after spice consumption.

This study was supported by the McCormick Science Institute.




Skulas-Ray A, et. al. A High Antioxidant Spice Blend Attenuates Postprandial Insulin Responses and Increases Hydrophilic ORAC in Vivo. Experimental Biology (EB) annual meeting. Anaheim, California. April, 2010. (Link to full study)
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