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Endothelial Function and Postprandial Glucose Control in Response to Meals

Containing Herbs and Spices in Adults With Overweight/Obesity

Front Nutr 2022 Feb 22;9:811433.

Endothelial Function and Postprandial Glucose Control in Response to Test-Meals Containing Herbs and Spices in Adults With Overweight/Obesity

Yudai Huang 1, Meng-Fu Tsai 1, Rajrajeshwari Sunil Thorat 1, Di Xiao 1, Xuhuiqun Zhang 1, Amandeep K Sandhu 1, Indika Edirisinghe 1, Britt M Burton-Freeman 1



Department of Food Science Nutrition, Center for Nutrition Research and Institute for Food Safety and Health, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL, United States.


Objectives: Herbs and Spices (H/S) contain bioactive compounds with purported health benefits. This study investigated the effect of H/S intake on indicators of vascular and metabolic health over 24 h using a test-meal challenge paradigm in adults with overweight or obesity.

Methods: In a randomized, single-blinded, 4-arm, 24 h, multi-sampling, crossover clinical trial, adults (n = 25) aged 36.6 ± 3.1 years with BMI 28.5 ± 0.6 kg/m2 (mean ± SEM) consumed a high-fat, high-carbohydrate challenge meal (~810 kcal) with salt/pepper only (control) or control with one of three different H/S combinations: Italian herb (rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley), cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice mix (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice) on four separate visits at least 3 days apart. Meals provided 35% of subjects’ energy to maintain weight and ~1 g H/S per 135 kcal of the meal. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and blood samples were collected at 0, 1, 2, 4, 5.5, 7, and 24 h for endpoint analysis (additional blood draw at 0.5 h for insulin/glucose). Mixed-model analysis of repeated measures via PROC MIXED PC-SAS 9.4 was performed on the primary outcome (FMD) and secondary outcome variables. This study was registered at (NCT03926442).

Results: Italian herb and pumpkin spice meals significantly increased %FMD at 24 h compared to the control meal (P = 0.048 and P = 0.027, respectively). The cinnamon meal reduced postprandial glycemia (Δ) compared to control (P = 0.01), and pumpkin pie spice mix and cinnamon meals reduced postprandial insulin at 0.5 h compared to the control meal (P = 0.01 and P = 0.04, respectively). IL-6 and triglycerides increased in response to all meals (Time, P < 0.0001) but were not significantly different between meals. Conclusions: The test-meal challenge study design coupled with multiple sampling over 24 h provides insights into time-course bioactivity of H/S on vascular function and metabolic indices in overweight/obese adults. Clinical trial registration:, identifier: NCT03926442. Keywords: flow-mediated dilation (FMD); herbs; meal tolerance test; metabolic; obesity; spices. It is well-documented that modern-day eating patterns promote metabolic imbalance and oxidative stress that over time leads to cellular/tissue/organ dysfunction and eventually disease (8). Excessive reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) in endothelial cells decrease NO bioavailability/signaling contributing to endothelial dysfunction and CVD development (30). Dietary strategies to increase antioxidant defenses, particularly in endothelial cells, are practical for vascular health. H/S contain compounds with antioxidant properties revealed through various studies examining their free radical scavenging capability in vitro (31), in the kitchen and in vivo (32). Li et al. (32) reported a 71% decrease in malondialdehyde (MDA), a lipid peroxidation product, in a hamburger cooked with spices (11.25 g spice mix including cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika and garlic powder) compared to control burgers cooked without spices.


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