Spice up your medicine cabinet and keep chronic inflammation at bay

Hippocrates may have said to “let food be thy medicine”—but there’s no rule that says it has to be tasteless, boring, or bland to be good for you. My A-List Diet is proof positive of that. But in case you’d like something a little more scientific, allow me to share a study I recently came across…

Penn State researchers performed a simple experiment with a dozen subjects—all overweight or obese men between the ages of 40 and 65 years, with at least one heart disease risk factor.

Each subject was randomly assigned to eat one of three high-carb, high-fat meals on three separate days: one without spices, one with two grams of spices, and one with six grams of spices. (The study used a blend featuring basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.)

Researchers took blood samples to measure inflammatory markers, both before the meals and then after, hourly, for four hours. They also cultured subjects’ white blood cells to examine how they responded to inflammatory stimulus. (The idea was to replicate how your immune cells respond to infections and pathogens in the body.)

Data showed a drop in inflammatory cytokines after the meal containing six grams of spice. Not only that, but a second study showed improvements in flow mediated dilation (FMD)—which measures blood vessel elasticity—after the spice-enriched meal.

Now, six grams of spices could amount to anything from one teaspoon to one tablespoon, depending on how the spices are dried. In other words, we’re not talking about a lot here, folks.

Incorporating spices into your home-cooked meals is so simple and beneficial. And in my view, it’s hard to imagine an easier or more enjoyable way to combat chronic inflammation.

Sure, cooking at home may not be as glamorous as a five-course meal at a Michelin-rated restaurant. But in the age of COVID-19, when dining out is dangerous, learning how to cook at home will save your life in more ways than one.

And that is one of the main reasons I launched my new show, Cooking with Dr. Fred. So if you haven’t yet, I urge you to check it out on Instagram TV (@DrFredNYC) or on my YouTube channel (“The Dr. Fred Show”). And of course, while you’re at it, order yourself a copy of my A-List Diet book (from AListDietBook.com), where you’ll find menus and hundreds of decadent recipes already included.


Rogers CJ, et al.  “Spices in a High-Saturated-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Meal Reduce Postprandial Proinflammatory Cytokine Secretion in Men with Overweight or Obesity: A 3-Period, Crossover, Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Journal of Nutrition, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxaa063