A scientific supplement recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition Today claims that the secret to making healthy eating more appealing is to encourage America to start adding herbs and spices to food. The rationale behind this is that using herbs like ginger, cardamom, rosemary, fennel, or sage when cooking will replace the need for sodium and fat to provide taste; to prove this point, one researcher at the summit in which this was discussed presented data that showed reduced-fat food with added herbs and spices was rated just as high on taste tests as their full-fat counterparts.
Pulling Together for the Common Good
The publication is entitled Spices and Herbs: Improving Public Health Through Flavorful Eating, and it is based on the outcome of a science summit held in May 2014. The meeting brought together food and nutrition experts from a range of backgrounds to share their expertise in order to come up with a viable solution to America's growing health crisis. The summit took place in Washington, and among those present were chefs, government officials, health professionals, and individuals with an academic background.
Data that contributed to the final conclusion includes studies showing that the use of herbs and spices drastically cuts down on the amount of sodium consumed, because taste is not compromised, and research demonstrating that particular herbs and spices actually decrease risk of disease by increasing insulin sensitivity and improving heart health.
Shaping the Future of Public Health
The McCormick Science Institute, the organization that convened the summit, is keen to use the findings discussed to create a long-term strategy to improve Americans' health through the use of herbs and spices. Possibilities include educating consumers on the health benefits of herbs and spices, conducting future studies on how herbs and spices can increase vegetable consumption among children, and supporting the development of healthy foods.
Joanna Dwyer, a professor of medicine and community health and the editor of Nutrition Today, is optimistic about the outcome of the summit, asserting that they "now understand that spices and herbs have a meaningful role to play in bringing flavor to the forefront of today's health and wellness conversations."
- Nutrition Today, Improving Public Health Through Flavorful Eating-A Call to Action, 2014