This post is sponsored by Pukka Herbs US but all opinions are my own.
WHEN TO SUPPLEMENT
One of the most common questions I get asked when I teach a class on spices and health is whether spices in culinary amounts are sufficient for health benefits or whether supplements can be helpful.
The answer, like most answers in life, is, “It Depends”.
The fact is that whether you should explore supplementation depends on the spice in question and your health goals.
In the case of spices like cinnamon and cumin, some studies have shown that dietary amounts can have beneficial health-enhancing effects. For instance, a small albeit promising study showed that ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon per day for 4 months can improve insulin function, a feasible amount to incorporate through food (think smoothies, oatmeal, tea) in a single day (1). For cumin, another small but provocative study showed that 3 grams per day of cumin (1.5 – 2 teaspoons) may help with weight loss (2). Larger trials are warranted but the results suggest that culinary amounts of some spices can confer health benefits.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true for every spice. Turmeric, which is a true powerhouse of a spice, is a case in point.
Like I write in the Spice Spice Baby cookbook, “It is estimated that 1200 – 1800 mg of curcumin (the best studied bioactive compound in turmeric) are required to see therapeutic effects, which would translate to amounts much greater than one would consume through food. To get larger amounts of beneficial compounds from spices, supplements can be considered after consulting with your doctor.”
WHAT MAKES A GOOD SUPPLEMENT?
Now that we’ve discussed when supplements could be helpful, it’s important to note that not all supplements are created equal.
A good supplement should contain not just one, or a couple of the beneficial phytochemicals found in a herb or spice but ALL the bioactives. This is because whole foods affect our bodies differently than isolated compounds from those same foods. Also, in many cases, the science hasn’t caught up to the benefits of as yet unidentified helpful molecules found in whole herbs and spices.
This is why I LOVE the Pukka Supplements Range as it’s derived from the whole herb and spice and includes all the beneficial compounds, some of which are still being studied for benefits.
What’s more, the supplements are thoughtfully designed to enhance effectiveness – for instance, the turmeric supplements contain black pepper which research shows us can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin and prevent raid clearance by the liver (3).
Last but not least, Pukka’s commitment to ethical, high quality, organic sourcing and sustainable packaging are hugely compelling reasons why I am a genuine fan.
HOW I USE SUPPLEMENTS
As to how I use the Pukka supplements, I take the Wholistic Turmeric or Turmeric Active on days when I am experiencing inflammation, or when my culinary turmeric intake has been low.
I love the Mushroom Gold and Elderberry Syrup to boost immunity when my kids bring home a nasty bug from school (3, 4). And Ashwaganda, an ancient Ayurvedic herb now actively studied by modern research, is fantastic to calm the nervous system after a stressful day (5).
What about you? Have you tried spice supplements? I would love to hear of your experience in the comments below!
With Love + Spice,