Spices as functional foods

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jan;51(1):13-28. doi: 10.1080/10408390903044271.


Spices and aromatic herbs have been used since antiquity as preservatives, colorants, and flavor enhancers. Spices, which have long been the basis of traditional medicine in many countries, have also been the subject of study, particularly by the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food industries, because of their potential use for improving health. Both in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated how these substances act as antioxidants, digestive stimulants, and hypolipidemics and show antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancerigenic activities. These beneficial physiological effects may also have possible preventative applications in a variety of pathologies. The aim of this review is to present an overview of the potential of spices and aromatic herbs as functional foods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification*
  • Functional Food*
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Spices / analysis*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids