Antioxidants, the hottest topic to hit nutrition in years, have cropped up in a host of whole foods—fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Now a recent study indicates that a surprising category of plants should be added to the list: herbs and spices.
When Rune Blomhoff and other scientists at the University of Oslo in Norway assessed just how much these culinary accents can contribute to a person’s total intake of dietary antioxidants, they found the amount to be significant. As little as 1 gram (about 1⁄2 teaspoon) of cloves will contribute more dietary antioxidant than a 1⁄2-cup serving of blueberries or cranberries, two foods famous for their antioxidant levels. And 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano contains the antioxidant of 1⁄2 cup sweet potatoes.
Cloves, oregano, allspice, cinnamon, sage, peppermint, thyme and lemon balm lead the pack. Blomhoff says both fresh and dried varieties work: “Many fresh herbs contain so much antioxidant that when dried they are still very good sources.” And benefits can even come in the form of teas, which, according to Blomhoff, “may be a significant dietary source.”
Top 10 Dried Herbs & Spices
Top 6 Fresh Herbs
* Lemon balm