The following list of spices are extremely high in ORAC value – meaning they are very good for you and should be considered and mixed into your diet in order to take advantage of the many antioxidant and other benefits.
There’s more to spicing up your food than just salt and pepper…
From a preparedness standpoint, while you focus on food storage,
Don’t forget the herbs, spices, and seasonings that can spice up an otherwise dull meal.
I’ve added the ORAC values, which is an abbreviation for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and was developed by the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore. In short, ORAC units measure the antioxidant capacity of foods. The higher, the better. High antioxidant foods help greatly to lower the risks of cancer, degeneration, and disease.
Technical: ORAC values are listed as (µmol TE/100g) (micromol Trolox Equivalent per 100 grams). Trolox equivalency is used as a benchmark for the antioxidant capacity.
The actual ORAC values for a given substance will vary depending on the absolute specifics. For example, there are all sorts of chocolate – but unsweetened dark chocolate has a much higher ORAC value than other chocolates. In other words, your own ORAC research may vary somewhat depending on exactly what’s being tested, although I’m confident the numbers listed here are in the ballpark (for 100g measurements – which is one of the standard measures).
ORAC: 314,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Although most spices are excellent sources of antioxidants, cloves rank as the richest source of them all. The abundant health benefits of cloves have been well known for centuries. Cloves have antiseptic and germicidal properties that help fight infections, relieve digestive problems and arthritis pain.
ORAC:267,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood. In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
ORAC: 200,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Oregano is known to have strong antibacterial properties, perhaps as a result of the volatile oils the herb contains which have been shown to inhibit the growth of many kinds of bacteria, including some that cause serious food borne illnesses. Researchers have even studied oregano as a treatment for the common bacteria disease known as giardia. This common amoeba is common throughout the world.
ORAC: 159,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns. It is a natural liver detoxifier. It may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory. It has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
ORAC: 80,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Cocoa consumption is associated with decreased blood pressure, improved blood vessel health, and improvement in cholesterol levels. Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption is also linked to reductions in risk factors for diabetes. Antioxidant benefits include a reduction in blood pressure, improved circulation, improved digestion, improved function of the endothelial cells of the circulatory system, protection from free radicals and the promotion of cardiovascular function that fights heart disease.
ORAC: 76,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
The seeds themselves are rich in iron and are thought to help stimulate the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas which can help absorb nutrients into the system. It has also been shown to boost the power of the liver’s ability to detoxify the human body. It can help with flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, and morning sickness. Cumin is also said to help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to it’s antiseptic properties – you’ll want to boil the seeds in a tea and then drink a couple of times a day. Researchers from Michigan State University, publishing the result of a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry have found that this amazing natural compound is able to prevent the destructive formation of alpha-synuclein proteins that are the hallmark presentation in many neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
ORAC: 74,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Parsley’s volatile oils—particularly myristicin—have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood. Parsley is an excellent source of two vital nutrients that are also important for the prevention of many diseases: vitamin C and vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene). Parsley is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. Folic acid is also a critical nutrient for proper cell division and is therefore vitally important for cancer-prevention in two areas of the body that contain rapidly dividing cells—the colon, and in women, the cervix.
ORAC: 67,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
The main use of basil medicinally is as a natural anti-inflammatory. Many naturopathic doctors prescribe basil in treatment of diabetes, respiratory disorders, allergies, impotence, and infertility. This may be because basil contains cinnamanic acid, which has been found to enhance circulation, stabilize blood sugar, and improve breathing in those with respiratory disorders. It is also know that basil is very high in antioxidants, especially when it is used as an extract or oil. These antioxidants can protect your body against free radical damage associated with aging, some skin ailments, and most forms of cancer.
ORAC: 50,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. It stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure. It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. This information doesn’t mean that you should eat a pound of chocolate a day. Chocolate is still a high-calorie, high-fat food.
ORAC: 48,000 (µmol TE/100g) [divide by 100 for 1-gram]
Curry is a mixture of several spices, predominantly turmeric. The most prolific benefit may be its effect on those who suffer from arthritis or otherwise sore and inflamed joints. Turmeric may reduce swelling and ease the pain associated with inflammation of the joints. The compound that makes curry yellow could help fight skin cancer. Curry may help protect the aging brain.
There are many other beneficial high ORAC value foods, which are listed in the following article, Top 100 High ORAC Value Antioxidant Foods.