Flashback Friday: Antioxidants in a Pinch

Flashback Friday: Antioxidants in a Pinch
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Some herbs and spices—including cinnamon, cloves, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, and peppermint—are so rich in antioxidants that just a small pinch can go a long way.

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Dried Indian gooseberries may be the healthiest snack on the planet. Two hundred times the antioxidant content of blueberries. So, most antioxidants per serving; but ounce for ounce, dried herbs and spices pack, on average, the greatest antioxidant punch. For example, herbs and spices may max out at ten times the antioxidant power of nuts and seeds. But, look, I mean, it’s easy to eat an ounce of nuts. Not so easy, an ounce of nutmeg. So, but look, some herbs and spices are so off-the-chart amazing, that even just a small pinch can go a long way.

Here’s the antioxidant power of a bowl of spaghetti, and marinara sauce. Let’s make that whole wheat spaghetti. And maybe a few florets of steamed broccoli on top, and you have a nice 142-antioxidant unit meal. But sprinkle one little spoonful of dried oregano on top, and you nearly double the antioxidant power of that meal.

Here’s a bowl of oatmeal. Here’s a bowl of oatmeal, with just a half teaspoon of cinnamon on top, dramatically boosting the nutrition.

Now, whenever I eat anything, I always try to think of ways I can add something to boost the nutrition in the end. Can I throw in some greens or beans? Can I sprinkle herbs or spices on top? But which are the most powerful? Here’s a teaspoon of oregano, one of the best. And cinnamon. But both beaten out by marjoram, which is in the oregano family—but more than 50% more powerful than oregano. So, if instead of oregano, you sprinkled marjoram, you’d be up to here.

Next: allspice. Then, dried lemon balm, which makes a really nice tea. I used to grow it in my garden. And speaking of tea: dried peppermint. Try sprinkling dried mint on salads, foccacia, tabbouleh, and it goes good in Indian dishes. It’s always a good idea to have some around.

And then finally, the leader of the pack: cloves! Here’s that unassuming oatmeal with a half teaspoon of cinnamon, and just a pinch of cloves.

In a few minutes, you can microwave a sweet potato, mash it up with some cinnamon and cloves for a nice kind of pumpkin pie taste, and you have a cheap, simple, easy snack—snack!—with more antioxidants than some people get all day long! For example, Egg McMuffin for breakfast, Big Mac for lunch, then an 8-ounce filet mignon for supper, even with a few sprigs of parsley on top. Our “pumpkin pie” sweet potato may have the antioxidant power of nearly a week’s worth of the Standard American Diet, in one healthy snack.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: showcake via Adobe Stock. This image has been modified.

Dried Indian gooseberries may be the healthiest snack on the planet. Two hundred times the antioxidant content of blueberries. So, most antioxidants per serving; but ounce for ounce, dried herbs and spices pack, on average, the greatest antioxidant punch. For example, herbs and spices may max out at ten times the antioxidant power of nuts and seeds. But, look, I mean, it’s easy to eat an ounce of nuts. Not so easy, an ounce of nutmeg. So, but look, some herbs and spices are so off-the-chart amazing, that even just a small pinch can go a long way.

Here’s the antioxidant power of a bowl of spaghetti, and marinara sauce. Let’s make that whole wheat spaghetti. And maybe a few florets of steamed broccoli on top, and you have a nice 142-antioxidant unit meal. But sprinkle one little spoonful of dried oregano on top, and you nearly double the antioxidant power of that meal.

Here’s a bowl of oatmeal. Here’s a bowl of oatmeal, with just a half teaspoon of cinnamon on top, dramatically boosting the nutrition.

Now, whenever I eat anything, I always try to think of ways I can add something to boost the nutrition in the end. Can I throw in some greens or beans? Can I sprinkle herbs or spices on top? But which are the most powerful? Here’s a teaspoon of oregano, one of the best. And cinnamon. But both beaten out by marjoram, which is in the oregano family—but more than 50% more powerful than oregano. So, if instead of oregano, you sprinkled marjoram, you’d be up to here.

Next: allspice. Then, dried lemon balm, which makes a really nice tea. I used to grow it in my garden. And speaking of tea: dried peppermint. Try sprinkling dried mint on salads, foccacia, tabbouleh, and it goes good in Indian dishes. It’s always a good idea to have some around.

And then finally, the leader of the pack: cloves! Here’s that unassuming oatmeal with a half teaspoon of cinnamon, and just a pinch of cloves.

In a few minutes, you can microwave a sweet potato, mash it up with some cinnamon and cloves for a nice kind of pumpkin pie taste, and you have a cheap, simple, easy snack—snack!—with more antioxidants than some people get all day long! For example, Egg McMuffin for breakfast, Big Mac for lunch, then an 8-ounce filet mignon for supper, even with a few sprigs of parsley on top. Our “pumpkin pie” sweet potato may have the antioxidant power of nearly a week’s worth of the Standard American Diet, in one healthy snack.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: showcake via Adobe Stock. This image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out my other videos on herbs, and don’t miss all my videos on spices

Some of the newer videos on herbs and spices include:

And I have lots on ginger and turmeric.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

51 responses to “Flashback Friday: Antioxidants in a Pinch

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  1. Hello everybody!

    I made a great addition to my morning oatmeal that I didn’t want to keep from you all. I was looking to incorporate some more legumes into my diet in novel ways. I was wanting to include those Ezekiël breads that come with legumes mixed with grains but these are crazy exspensive, at least when making them a staple food. Now, I found a solution with something that I add to my oatmeal which gives it 3 times more protein and fiber compared to just the oats. It’s called Lupine flakes. You could compare them to steel-cut-oats but now the cutting comes from Lupine beans. I just add 1 or 2 spoons of Lupin flakes to my steel-cut-oats and nuke them together for 3 minutes on 850 W. In this manner you will have eaten some beans in the morning, directly benefiting from their impact on glucose control and increased satiety troughout the day.

    In contrast to other beans that tend to be carbohydrate based, Lupin beans are almost entirely protein based. Lupini beans have the highest protein-per-calorie of any plant on earth and are in the top percentile in terms of fiber-per-calorie. Maybe that’s why they are reffered to as the miracle bean. Lupin beans have 3 times more protein compared to whole eggs or quinoa and provide more protein than a piece of cooked beef steak (32g/100g). The importance of protein for muscle-building and cell function has been known for more than 200 years, and while harmful in animal origin; the European “Lupicarp” project and earlier research has found that the protein and certain peptides in Lupin may lower the harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood.

    Besides their crazy protein content, Lupin also has a remarkable fiber content. Half of the little things are protein but the other half is nothing but good prebiotic fiber, certainly a feast for the good bacteria. With 37g fiber per 100g it’s more than 3 times the fiber that you find in either lentils or oats.

    Lupini seeds were found in the tombs of Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, who wanted to take this superbean to the afterlife with them. The Greeks then domesticated the bean, introducing it to the Romans. The Ancient Romans adopted the lupini bean, and it became a primary source of protein for Roman warriors. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Pre-Incans of South America domesticated lupins, which then became a staple crop of the Incan Empire. Today, lupini beans are enjoyed as a festive snack throughout the Mediterranean and often enjoyed as an Italian bar snack. Just like with other legumes, there is substantial clinical evidence that suggests an average serving of of lupin per day can improve many health issues such as obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, bowel and cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that adding lupin to a meal increases satiety and lowers the body’s total energy intake throughout the day. Besides all that they come with a nuritional profile that is not only unique among the beans but among the entire plant based food kingdom.

    Follow me on twitter @netgogate while I do more research for my book.
    Looking forward to the fasting DVD next week from Dr. G.been waiting for a long time for that.

    https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/100349/brief/en
    https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/more-lupin-beans-less-cholesterol
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/exactly-lupin-should-eating/
    https://lupinfood.com/
    https://bramisnacks.com/

    1. My experience is that on a WFPB diet, you should try to minimize the amount of protein you eat or you will get too much. Way too much. Too much protein is very bad for you. Focus on carbs. My breakfast: 1/2 cup organic rolled oats, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup cooked black beans, 1 tbsp raw buckwheat, 1/2 tbsp cacao nibs, 1 tbsp flax meal, 1 tbsp fresh chopped lemon balm or mint, 1/2 cup raisins, unsweetened soy milk. Fruit: 1 orange, 1/4 lemon, 1/4 lime. Juice 10oz cranberry juice (1lb cranberries blended with 2 liters water).

    2. Hello Dr. Gregor!
      Have recently added “Shilajit” powder feom the Himalyan mountains to my daily diet, and now feel so much better, with energy off the charts! Also read ot contains B-12-!
      Which as a whole food plant based person,
      is a bonus… My question is; “Will you please do a video on Shilajit..?
      I don’t know that much about it, and what it’s good for, etc.., and would be SO interested to hear what you have to say about it.. Thank-you! Layla Shanti

      1. There are many health claims made by people selling shilaji including that it contains B12. I’d be wary since this hasn’t been verified and a number of plant foods contain B12 analogues that return positive results in some B12 tests but which aren’t biologically active.

        Certain shilajit products are also reported to contain high levels of lead and mercury. Google an article called the dangers of shilajit on the Livestrong website.

    3. You talk about Herbs as antioxidants but why won’t you check out an herbal product that activates your body to make it’s own, natural and more powerful antioxidants? I admire your work and the information you share which is why I follow you. I would think you would want this product as part of what you offer people. It fits in nicely and does what no other product or herbal supplement does. It’s backed by independent scientific studies and thousands of personal testimonies. Please tell me you are interested in at least taking a look at it.

  2. Lupini beans: “Some varieties are referred to as “sweet lupins” because they contain much smaller amounts of toxic alkaloids than the “bitter lupin” varieties…The Andean lupin L. mutabilis, the Mediterranean Lupinus albus (white lupin), and Lupinus hirsutus are only edible after soaking the seeds for some days in salted water.[5] In Ecuador, the lupin is often consumed as a ceviche-like street food known as “cevichochos”…Lupin poisoning is a nervous syndrome caused by alkaloids in bitter lupins, similar to neurolathyrism. Lupin poisoning affects people who eat incorrectly prepared lupin beans….”(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupin_bean, cites omitted)

      1. YGR, he’s been asked this in interviews before and says it doesn’t matter–you can workout before, after, in-between or whatever else. I’m not sure if there’s a difference if you’re trying to lose weight but I don’t imagine there is.

        1. I do better when I eat before or at least feel a little better and don’t get super hungry mid-workout, but sometimes I like to workout first thing in the morning before I eat anything, anyway, for convenience.

      1. Read recently microwaving is least preferable since it reduces nutrients by as much as 50%. I still microwave my rolled oats tho.

      1. But if microwaving is more convenient and translates to you eating more sweet potatoes than if you had to boil them then microwaving is the obvious choice here. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good! ;)

  3. I know it is early days in the widespread acceptance of hemp oil, (not CBD oil… hemp oil doesn’t even list that) but I’m hoping that will be included in nutritional benefits in future.

  4. Thought I’d throw in my unique daily 16 oz. green tea ‘concoction’ (almost all organic ingredients):
    Green tea leaves
    Peppermint leaves
    shredded ginger tsp
    parsley tbls
    fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice
    freeze dried cranberry powder tsp
    black raspberry liquid concentrate tsp
    rosemary powder tsp
    black currant liq. concentrate tsp
    fresh ground cloves 1/2 tsp
    freeze-dried blueberries tsp
    true cinnamon 1/2 tsp
    cool and sweeten with refrigerated POMegranate juice
    stevia powder
    Keep in fridge and sip over the hours.

  5. Which spices are good on salads?

    I am still doing my salads and wraps.

    When I cook, I eat so many spices, but when I go raw salads, I don’t use any at all.

    1. I use marjoram, black pepper (freshly ground), whole celery seeds and herbs de Provence blend to get the rosemary. These go on a large raw salad every day.

  6. It is June 14th and the temperature is in the 60’s and it is almost always alternating overcast with raining where I live.

    We are still mostly wearing long sleeves and last night they said, “Make sure to bring your jacket.”

    They said that it is going to get to 90 within a few days, so I accidentally put on short sleeves and it was so breezy that I ended up immediately knowing that it wasn’t going to be today.

    I feel like I have been monitoring whether it would even be possible to get Vitamin D naturally all year because of VegSources anti-Dr. Greger video and so far, I have had 5 minutes of direct sunlight since September.

    I really will try to get some, but they said 90 degrees and that will already be too hot.

  7. My oatmeal additions each time I have it:

    Fruit, usually 2 kinds (at least one of which will always be a berry, usually blue) or sometimes raisins if fresh fruit is low.

    PLUS Cinnamon, Clove, and Allspice. I use a microplane to shave the cinnamon and grind a few Allspice seeds with two or three bits of clove in my mortar and pestle.

    Yum

  8. Wanting to up my antioxidant numbers but not liking some of the usual spices, at least the way I cook, I decided to capsulize many of them including clove, turmeric, oregano, ginger, rosemary etc. This has enabled me to really increase my daily intake of spices but left me wondering if there is a point at which antioxidants in high amounts could potentially have pro-oxidant effects? As an aside I had significant ist MCP pain in my thumb for which I was considering fusion however since this spice regimen I have no significant pain at all. I attributed this success right or wrong to the turmeric and possibly ginger which I take 6-8 grams per day with pepper. I also have no notable side effects but yet wonder about the potential for pro-oxidant or other untoward effects. Could not find anything online re same. Anyone with more knowledge than I have any thoughts/comments? Thanks

    1. As usual common sense should prevail. I’m sure you are aware that spices are incredibly potent and while intake of spices in your food can be very beneficial, taking too much of even a good thing can result in harm For example, too many hot spices like chili powder may affect you and your body would warn you not to indulge. Taking megadoses of spices could prove the truth that supplements can provide problems that spices in whole form don’t. I could not find any research article that detailed specific doses of spices that could be detrimental, but it is recognized that cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon could have such effects. Here are 5 articles you may want to read, reaffirming the benefits, yet mentioning possible precautions with turmeric,ginger and cinnamon. You may want to do further research on the oregano and rosemary.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-spices-fight-inflammation/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/who-shouldnt-consume-curcumin-or-turmeric/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-safer-cinnamon/
      https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger
      https://badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/cinnamon/
      Enjoy your spices now but just be aware if taken to excess they may have some side effects.

  9. Hello everyone, I have a baby, she is 9 months old, she’s vegan from birth and I couldn’t find a supportive doctor to help me during this challeng, they all blame me and they all recommended her to eat fish and meet or at least eggs and dairy products, so I think women like me need support so we can raise healthy vegan children.
    Please I need some information about vegan babys, what’s important some tips would be helpful, what are the needed vitamins supplements at the early stages of their life and so on…
    Thanks really in advance
    Suhad

    1. First,good for you in giving your baby the healthiest start. I am sorry you are not getting support from your doctor, but remember doctors have little if no training in nutrition and you may have to teach them about the connection between whole food plant based diet and disease. Please share this site with them if they are amenable. Now for support for you: Here is a comment one from one of our wise Nutrition Facts volunteers which I like to share with new parents:

      “Note the following quote from a position paper from the ADA: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
      .
      Also note this quote from Dr. Greger’s book, How Not To Die, page 411-412: “Vitamin B12-fortified plant-based diets can offer health benefits for all stages of the life cycle. [When] Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most esteemed pediatrician of all time,…died at ninety-four, he advocated children be raised on a plant-based diet with no exposure to meat or dairy products. … ‘Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods have a tremendous health advantage and are much less likely to develop health problems as the years go by.’ ”

      PCRM is the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine, headed up by Dr. Barnard. Dr. Greger has mentioned Dr. Barnard and PCRM favorably in posts and his book. Here are two articles from PCRM that I think contains the type of information you are looking for: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-diets-for-children-right-from-the-start and http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/info_advchild.pdf
      .
      I’ll also refer you to a site called the Vegetarian Resource Group, VRG. Their articles are usually very well researched and Dr. Greger has mentioned VRG favorably at least once. VRG has a whole section on kids on their website. Here’s the main page. Scroll down to the Nutrition section: http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm
      This is one of my favorite articles on that page. which starts with babies and goes on up: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php
      .
      Finally, Becoming Vegan, Express Edition is a great over-all reference book for the whole family. It also has an entire chapter on children and what to feed. It also includes an age-based chart where you can get ideas on how much of each of the main nutrients your child needs at various ages. The authors of that book have been guest bloggers here on NutritionFacts. They are very well respected and extremely knowledgeable about nutrition science and how it applies to all ages.
      I really hope this helps you to get your people on board. It’s not just about respecting the decisions you make as a parent. Consuming animal products and junk food puts your child at risk. It’s just not OK for people to push that on you.”
      Best of health to both you and your baby.

  10. I like the Flashback Friday videos. This one reminds me why I add a pinch of cinnamon and cloves to my daily breakfast bowl of coarse oats, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate powder, goji berries, and fresh organic fruit (banana, plum, or apple).

  11. Are you familiar with Dr.Sebi and his teachings? Also, are you familiar with the fact that he has been proven to cure every disease?

    1. Yes, all sorts of quacks and fake ‘doctors’ preying on the sick, the desperate and the gullible get mentioned on these pages from time to time. “Dr” Sebi has been mentioned before.

  12. Hi
    I’m wondering,as someone who has problems with certain herbs & mainly spices.
    Is there any research explaining why my body can tolerate frozen & fresh herbs but not the same herbs in dried format? (not the exact same,since they are store bought,possibly grown in different countries…) Different brands of organic dried herbs & spices cause the same reactions.

    Any research on how to get rid of skin reactions to spices like turmeric,chilly flakes,cayene,cumin etc… food sensitivities..?
    Many spices are only available dried unfortunately.
    Dr.Greger says that without hot sauce he would have a hard time eating so many greens,I can totally relate.
    Any ideas,because I’m not willing to use a lot of salt ,onion powder gives me gas & I don’t want to erode away my enamel with tons of lemons & limes.
    Thanks!

    1. Dried are often more concentrated and more powerful.

      As far as the gas goes, for many of us, that changed over time.

      I used to get so sick on garlic and onions but now I can eat both of them.

      What type of skin reaction do you get? Hives? A rash?

      1. It would be nice if the gas would reduce from the onion powder over time.
        (gross details alert) My pores expand & get filled & then the skin flakes & becomes itchy.Even a tiny amount will cause a reaction.Having avoided most spices for years I find a very small amount very spicy compared to others…

    2. You asked why your body might tolerate frozen or fresh herbs but not dried spices, or at least not much. As another commenter mentioned the dried ones are much more concentrated. If you are indeed having skin reactions consistently to hot spices like chili, cayenne, you may want to avoid these and then just gradually introduce very small amounts for example, just a very small amount of tumeric, since it’s such a beneficial addition, then if you don’t react, add just a slightly bigger “pinch.”
      I would not advice as consistent use of a topical ointment or medication to treat skin reactions, although an oatmeal bath/soak can be helpful if you have an unexpected flare up after eating a spice that you reacted to.
      If you can tolerate mustard that will give some spice to your greens. And if you rinse your mouth after having lemon flavored food, you can protect your enamel.

      Finally several spices like basic, dill, parsley can be grown in pots, so you could have easily accessible fresh spices. See if any of these might work for you. Best of health and spice

  13. Can one get to many antioxidants? Is that possible or do we suffer from way to much oxidative stress everyday?

    Common DR. G if one is eating a filets mignon for dinner, a person would at least have an iceburg salad with a slice of tomato , or a tablespoon of Green-beans.

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