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Review
, 17 Suppl 1, 265-8

Traditional Indian Spices and Their Health Significance

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  • PMID: 18296352
Review

Traditional Indian Spices and Their Health Significance

Kamala Krishnaswamy. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr.

Abstract

India has been recognized all over the world for spices and medicinal plants. Both exhibit a wide range of physiological and pharmacological properties. Current biomedical efforts are focused on their scientific merits, to provide science-based evidence for the traditional uses and to develop either functional foods or nutraceuticals. The Indian traditional medical systems use turmeric for wound healing, rheumatic disorders, gastrointestinal symptoms, deworming, rhinitis and as a cosmetic. Studies in India have explored its anti-inflammatory, cholekinetic and anti-oxidant potentials with the recent investigations focusing on its preventive effect on precarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti atherosclerotic effects in biological systems both under in vitro and in vivo conditions in animals and humans. Both turmeric and curcumin were found to increase detoxifying enzymes, prevent DNA damage, improve DNA repair, decrease mutations and tumour formation and exhibit antioxidative potential in animals. Limited clinical studies suggest that turmeric can significantly impact excretion of mutagens in urine in smokers and regress precancerous palatal lesions. It reduces DNA adducts and micronuclei in oral epithelial cells. It prevents formation of nitroso compounds both in vivo and in vitro. It delays induced cataract in diabetes and reduces hyperlipidemia in obese rats. Recently several molecular targets have been identified for therapeutic / preventive effects of turmeric. Fenugreek seeds, a rich source of soluble fiber used in Indian cuisine reduces blood glucose and lipids and can be used as a food adjuvant in diabetes. Similarly garlic, onions, and ginger have been found to modulate favourably the process of carcinogenesis.

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