Spice use in food: Properties and benefits

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Apr 13;57(6):1078-1088. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2013.858235.


Spices are parts of plants that due to their properties are used as colorants, preservatives, or medicine. The uses of spices have been known since long time, and the interest in the potential of spices is remarkable due to the chemical compounds contained in spices, such as phenylpropanoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. Spices, such as cumin (cuminaldehyde), clove (eugenol), and cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde) among others, are known and studied for their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties due to their main chemical compounds. These spices have the potential to be used as preservatives in many foods namely in processed meat to replace chemical preservatives. Main chemical compounds in spices also confer other properties providing a variety of applications to spices, such as insecticidal, medicines, colorants, and natural flavoring. Spices provide beneficial effects, such as antioxidant activity levels that are comparable to regular chemical antioxidants used so they can be used as a natural alternative to synthetic preservatives. In this review, the main characteristics of spices will be described as well as their chemical properties, different applications of these spices, and the advantages and disadvantages of their use.

Keywords: Antioxidant; antimicrobial; colorants; preservatives; properties; spices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis
  • Anthocyanins / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum / chemistry
  • Cuminum / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Food Coloring Agents / analysis
  • Food Preservatives / analysis
  • Food Preservatives / chemistry
  • Insecticides / analysis
  • Insecticides / chemistry
  • Piper nigrum / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry
  • Spices / analysis*
  • Syzygium / chemistry
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Zingiber officinale / chemistry


  • Anthocyanins
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Food Preservatives
  • Insecticides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Terpenes