Archive for May, 2010

Two new studies provide further evidence that herbs and spices such as ginger and peppers can be beneficial for improving digestion and reducing pain.

A study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, found that black  and  red pepper contain the bioactive compounds piperine and capsaicin (found in black and red pepper, respectively) which favorably impact gastrointestinal health by reducing inflammation in the digestive tract. Researchers fed the spices to rats at levels comparable to what is normally consumed in the Indian diet. After eight weeks, the spices significantly increased antioxidant activity in the digestive tract which reduced oxidative stress and inflammation. 

Source:  Prakash UN, Srinivasan K. Gastrointestinal protective effect of dietary spices during ethanol-induced oxidant stress in experimental rats. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2010;35:134-141.

Another study featured in the Journal of Pain  found that ginger may reduce muscle pain caused by rigorous exercise. Researchers gave human subjects 2 grams of raw or heat-treated ginger supplements for 11 consecutive days. On day eight, subjects lifted heavy weights to produce sore arm muscles. Those groups consuming ginger experienced a 20 percent reduction in pain after weight training compared to those groups that didn’t.

Source:  Black CD, Herring MP, Hurley DJ, O’Connor PJ. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. Journal of Pain. 2010. [Epub ahead of print.]

You can read more about these great spices and how to incorporate them into your diet, deliciously, in my books 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life and 101 Optimal Life Foods . is a great website for more information on the health benefits of herbs and spices!

Dear Guyatitian:

 Isn’t oil not that great for you? For example, I use Canola oil or the Smart Balance Omega Oil (it’s a blend of canola, soy and olive oil) because I thought they were the BETTER oils to use, but when I compared those to my regular old vegetable oil, everything was exactly the same – EXCEPT that the vegetable oil had 2 grams of Saturated Fat per serving, while the others only had 1 gram of Saturated Fat per serving.

 I also noticed that there are 120 fat calories per 1 tablespoon! 

YIKES! I know I’m eating more than one tablespoon of dressing on my salad, so am I just ruining my healthy salad by adding my oil based dressings to it?????

 Dear Fat-Phobe

Here’s the skinny on fat. Most “vegetable oil” is actually soybean oil. All of the oils you named, including soy oil, are excellent choices that can be used on salads, cooking, or baking. All are considered low in saturated fat (the stuff that can contribute to heart disease) and all are heart-healthy. So 2 grams of saturated fat versus 1 gram is no big whoop except if you are drowning your salad in oil!

On the positive side, fat helps promote satiety. Meaning, if the salad you ate had some oil-based dressing on it, it might tide you over longer than a fat free dressing. Also, recent research shows that adding a little fat to your salad actually helps maximize the absorption of the nutrients in your salad.

Now let’s talk calories. Whether you are talking a tablespoon of butter, oil or any other type of fat, they all have about the same amount of calories.

So no, I don’t think you are ruining your healthy salad by using oil-based dressings but you certainly can turn it unhealthy if you put on too much. Here’s a link to a video I did at Ponte Fresco restaurant in Chicago that illustrates this point.

If you are like me, who likes a salad a little ‘wet’, opt for a low-cal,reduced fat ( NOT fat free) dressing or use one of those mist spray dressings that cover every bite of salad with just enough dressing.

Yours in good health,

The Guyatitian