A study published in the Journal of Food Science examines the prebiotic potential, chemical composition, and antioxidant capacity of seven spice extracts: black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, Mediterranean oregano, rosemary, and turmeric.

The researchers performed extraction on the spices using boiling water, and then determined their antioxidant capacity and characterized their major chemical constituents. Using agar plates containing serial dilutions of extracts, the researchers were able to determine the effects of spice extracts on the viability of 88 anaerobic and facultative isolates from intestinal microbiota.

A total of 14 phenolic compounds, a piperine, cinnamic acid, and cinnamaldehyde were identified and quantitated. The researchers discovered that spice extracts exhibited high antioxidant capacity that correlated with the total number of major chemicals. All spice extracts, except for turmeric, enhanced the growth of Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillusspp. All spices exhibited inhibitory activity against selected Ruminococcus species. Cinnamon, oregano, and rosemary were active against selected Fusobacterium strains and cinnamon, rosemary, and turmeric were active against selected Clostridium spp.

Some spices displayed prebiotic-like activity by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppressing the growth of pathogenic bacteria, suggesting their potential role in the regulation of intestinal microbiota and the enhancement of gastrointestinal health. The identification and quantification of spice-specific phytochemicals provided insight into the potential influence of these chemicals on the gut microbial communities and activities. The researchers concluded that future research is needed to study the connections between spice-induced changes in gut microbiota and host metabolism and disease preventive effect in animal models and humans.


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