Herbs and spices at a relatively high culinary dosage improves 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure in adults at risk of cardiometabolic diseases: a randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Dec 1;114(6):1936-1948. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab291.


Background: Intake of a single meal containing herbs and spices attenuates postprandial lipemia, hyperglycemia, and oxidative stress, and improves endothelial function. There has been limited investigation of the effect of longer-term intake of mixed herbs and spices on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases.

Objectives: The objective was to assess the effect of an average American diet containing herbs and spices at 0.5 (low-spice diet; LSD), 3.3 (moderate-spice diet; MSD), and 6.6 (high-spice diet; HSD) g · d-1 · 2100 kcal-1 on lipids and lipoproteins as well as other risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases in at-risk adults.

Methods: A 3-period, randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding study with 71 participants was conducted at the Pennsylvania State University. Each diet was consumed for 4 wk with a minimum 2-wk washout period. Outcomes were assessed at baseline and the end of each diet period.

Results: No between-diet effects were observed for LDL cholesterol, the primary outcome. Between-diet differences were observed for mean 24-h systolic (P = 0.02) and diastolic (P = 0.005) ambulatory blood pressure. The HSD lowered mean 24-h systolic blood pressure compared with the MSD (-1.9 mm Hg; 95% CI: -3.6, -0.2 mm Hg; P = 0.02); the difference between the HSD and LSD was not statistically significant (-1.6 mm Hg; 95% CI: -3.3, 0.04 mm Hg; P = 0.058). The HSD lowered mean 24-h diastolic blood pressure compared with the LSD (-1.5 mm Hg; 95% CI: -2.5, -0.4 mm Hg; P = 0.003). No differences were detected between the LSD and MSD. No between-diet effects were observed for clinic-measured blood pressure, markers of glycemia, or vascular function.

Conclusions: In the context of a suboptimal US-style diet, addition of a relatively high culinary dosage of mixed herbs and spices (6.6 g · d-1 · 2100 kcal-1) tended to improve 24-h blood pressure after 4 wk, compared with lower dosages (0.5 and 3.3 g · d-1 · 2100 kcal-1), in adults at elevated risk of cardiometabolic diseases.This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03064932.

Keywords: blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; controlled feeding study; flow-mediated dilation; herbs; lipids/lipoproteins; pulse wave velocity; spices.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Spices*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03064932