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Time to spice things up! What to know about the benefits of spices

Time to spice things up! What to know about the benefits of spices

Looking for ways to improve your heart health? You could start with your dinner plate! Serve up a meal filled with flavor to give your heart a boost. Let’s look at what you should know about the health benefits of spices.

You can take many steps to protect your heart and keep it functioning at its best. You probably know the basics:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get plenty of quality sleep
  • Maintain a healthy weight

But did you know that you can also impact your heart health while amping up the flavor in the foods you eat? Here in the heart of New Orleans, we know a thing or two about spicing things up! And our habit of piling on the seasonings can be heart healthy.

The benefits of spices for your heart health

So, what’s the scoop? How can adding pepper to your gumbo give your heart a boost? There are a few reasons. One of the biggest benefits of using spices in your recipes is that it makes you less likely to turn to the saltshaker for flavor. Eating a diet high in sodium can be dangerous for your heart, according to the American Heart Association, putting you at risk of cardiovascular disease. Too much sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure, in turn, is among the risk factors for heart disease.

Amping up the flavor in your meals by adding herbs and spices packs a delicious punch without the excess sodium. But beyond simply lowering your salt intake, adding spices to your food also has other benefits for your heart. Certain spices are known to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, have an anti-inflammatory effect and help regulate blood sugar. All of those things can help keep your heart healthy.

What to add to your spice rack

Wondering which spices are worth introducing to your taste buds and cabinets? Start with these:


Adding this spice to your morning oatmeal or even your king cake gives your heart a boost by keeping your blood sugar in check. Studies have shown that cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar, lowering blood sugar levels in those who have Type 2 diabetes, especially. It may also help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, making it a winner for multiple reasons.


This one might not be the most common in our Cajun recipes, but it can add a robust flavor to our cuisine’s rice dishes and other staples. Turmeric is a heart booster because of an ingredient it contains—curcumin. This substance benefits the body in many ways, but it’s known best for being a natural anti-inflammatory. Too much inflammation in the body can be harmful to the heart, so reducing inflammation is helpful.


You might have heard of drinking ginger ale to calm an upset stomach. But ginger also has benefits for your heart. Sprinkling this spice into your recipes can help reduce inflammation. Combining it with cinnamon can give a powerful flavor profile while also amping up the heart benefits.


We know all about garlic. But did you know garlic can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels? Research has found that eating garlic helps keep the blood vessels flexible, making it less likely they will narrow and become blocked by plaque.


Looking for a distinctive flavor for a fish or shrimp dish? Try some cumin! Cumin is another spice with multiple benefits for the heart. A diet including cumin may lower blood sugar levels, help the body process insulin and lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels.

Cayenne pepper

Need another reason to kick up the heat in your favorite meal? Add some extra cayenne pepper to reap the heart health benefits. A compound called capsaicin in this type of pepper has been shown to improve blood flow and may help lower blood pressure.

Black pepper

This is another staple in our diets that packs some hidden heart-health benefits. A compound in black pepper called piperine is believed to help lower inflammation. Some research indicates that black pepper may help the body absorb beta-carotene. This antioxidant can help prevent heart disease.

Folks in NOLA put their whole heart into everything they do, which is why we put our hearts into caring for yours! Schedule an appointment today with an LCMC Health cardiologist.