Spices in a High-Saturated-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Meal Reduce Postprandial Proinflammatory Cytokine Secretion in Men with Overweight or Obesity: A 3-Period, Crossover, Randomized Controlled Trial

J Nutr. 2020 Jun 1;150(6):1600-1609. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa063.


Background: Postprandial inflammation that occurs concurrently with hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia after ingestion of a high-saturated-fat, high-carbohydrate meal (HFCM) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Numerous preclinical and clinical studies demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects of individual spices. However, the effect of consumption of a spice blend on inflammatory mediators has not been examined in a randomized controlled trial.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate the postprandial effect of a blend of spices in a HFCM on inflammatory cytokine responses.

Methods: Nonsmoking men (40-65 y old) with overweight/obesity (25 ≤ BMI ≤ 35 kg/m2), elevated waist circumference (≥ 94 cm), and ≥ 1 CVD risk factor were recruited for a 3-period crossover study ( n = 12). In random order, participants consumed the following: a HFCM (∼1000 kcal, 33% kcal from saturated fat and 36% kcal from carbohydrate), a HFCM containing 2 g spice blend, or an HFCM containing 6 g spice blend. The spice blend consisted of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric. Blood was collected before, and hourly for 4 h after the HFCM. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated, and the percentage of CD14 +/Human Leukocyte Antigen-DR isotype + (HLA-DR +) monocytes and proinflammatory cytokine concentrations in plasma and LPS-stimulated PBMCs were quantified as secondary outcomes.

Results: There was a significant spice-by-time interaction on IL-1β (P < 0.001), IL-8 (P = 0.020), and TNF-α (P = 0.009) secretion from LPS-stimulated PBMCs. IL-1β secretion from LPS-stimulated PBMCs was significantly reduced (1314%) at 240 min after HFCM consumption containing 6 g, but not 2 g, of spice blend compared with 0 g spice blend.

Conclusions: A HFCM containing 6 g spice blend attenuated HFCM-induced postprandial IL-1β secretion in men with overweight/obesity.This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03064958.

Keywords: inflammatory cytokines; monocytes; nutritional intervention; obesity; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight
  • Postprandial Period*
  • Spices*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03064958