There is compelling evidence that the herbs and spices found in many popular dishes can help ward off disease, but do we get enough of these valuable ingredients just by eating food that contains them?

Food scientist Roger A. Clemens says, “Throughout recorded history, spices and herbs have been valued for their curative powers. The use of herbs and spices to treat or prevent [health conditions] is almost universal among non-industrialized societies.” But while antioxidants found in oregano, dill, garlic and elsewhere may affect some disease processes, the key drawback for identifying spices’ actual influence on health may be in the relatively small amount that?s ordinarily added to food because, as Clemens says, “The classic definition of spice is a substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities for the purpose of flavoring.”

How your food is cooked may be as important to your health as the food itself. Researchers now know more about a new class of toxins that might soon become a important a risk factor for heart disease, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are absorbed into the body through the consumption of grilled, fried, or broiled animal products, such as meats and cheeses. AGEs, which are also produced when food products are sterilized and pasteurized, have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, vascular and kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. At the moment, changing one’s approaches to cooking is the only defense against excessive AGE consumption.

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