Dietary guidelines for health - where do herbs and spices fit?
Food sustains the human body by delivering components to participate in its processes, systems, and composition. Aligning the study of food components to those of human systems enables a mechanistic understanding of the effects of foods.
The impact of food is complex in that it delivers multiple molecules that impact on these pathways at a number of different levels, and this effect is gradually being exposed with detailed mechanistic studies using food extracts.
Specific reference should be given to herbs and spices as a separate food category in dietary guidelines because
* a very high concentration of phenolics in herbs may increase the antioxidant capacity of the meal with just a few grams of the food.
* there is supportive evidence of mechanisms by which compounds in herbs and spices may afford protection against oxidative and inflammatory mechanisms.
* herbs and spices are plant foods, aligned to food groups such as fruits, vegetables, and seeds but are used differently in the culinary sense.