5 Spices That Are The Most Powerful Antioxidants

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

Photo credit: Roman Plessl

Photo credit: Roman Plessl

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.

Rosemary

Photo credit: Health Gauge

Photo credit: Health Gauge

Rosemary, dried — 165,280 ORAC/100 grams

Rosemary is delicious with oven-roasted root vegetables, as part of meat rubs and marinades, or sprinkled over fish. Use it to flavour lemonade, infuse olive oil, and make herbal tea.

Thyme

Photo credit: cookbookman17

Photo credit: cookbookman17

Thyme, dried — 157,380 ORAC/100 grams

Another popular Mediterranean spice, thyme is extremely versatile and can be used in many of the same ways as oregano. Add it to salad dressings, soups, stews, oven roasts or braises, all egg-based dishes, garlic bread, pasta sauce, etc.

Turmeric

Photo credit: Steven Jackson

Photo credit: Steven Jackson

Turmeric, ground — 127,068 ORAC/100 grams

Turmeric is most commonly associated with Indian cooking, which is one of the best ways to use it. Make curries out of whatever ingredients you’ve got – vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, or lentils – and add a generous spoonful of turmeric, along with other curry spices such as cumin, ground coriander, ginger, and garlic. Add turmeric to soups, stews, and rice pilaf; it will add a vibrant yellow colour. It’s also good in mustard, relishes, chutneys, and pickles.

Sage

Photo credit: Alan Levine

Photo credit: Alan Levine

Sage, ground — 119,929 ORAC/100 grams

The taste of sage conjures up memories of Thanksgiving for many, but it’s a spice that should be enjoyed at other times of the year, too. Similar to rosemary, it’s excellent with roasted vegetables, meat, and fish. Add a pinch to pasta dishes, particularly cream sauces, and any soups or stews. Sage complements many winter vegetables, such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and rutabaga.

Katharine Martinko, TreeHugger.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

117 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

Good to know.

Melissa DogLover
Melissa DogLover1 years ago

all noted-- thanks.

MJ J.
Past Member 1 years ago

Sage, too? OK, good to know. I take tumeric now, and I use the others in dishes. I do like herbs and spices. BTW, aren't some of those herbs, rather than spices?

tanzy t.
tanzy t.1 years ago

ugh

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey1 years ago

Like all of these

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you

Nimue Pendragon

Love them! :)

Nimue Pendragon

Love them! :)

Carol Bischoff
Carol Bischoff1 years ago

Thank you