There have been numerous studies touting the health benefits of herbs and spices. Now a new paper has claimed that the likes of turmeric and paprika could help prevent heart disease.

Researchers at Penn State University found that a blend of antioxidant spices can reduce the stress that high fat foods put on the heart.

They carried out tests on overweight but healthy men aged between 30 and 65, adding a 14 gram dose to a 1,200 calorie dinner.

Those who consumed the spices were found to have significantly reduced insulin and triglyceride levels.

"Normally, when you eat a high fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood," explained study leader Sheila West.

"If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased.

"We found that adding spices to a high fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 per cent compared to a similar meal with no spices added."

The spice blend used by the researchers included turmeric, cinnamon, garlic powder and paprika.

Much has also been made of the health benefits of cayenne pepper, after singer Beyonce once admitted to following a strict diet of cayenne, lemon juice and maple syrup to lose weight.

While nutritionists agreed that going to such extremes is an unhealthy way of shedding the pounds, many did agree that cayenne pepper can help to boost metabolism.

Consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, it is also known to aid digestion and ease bloating.

Fans of spicy food may be cheered by the results of this latest study. However, if you don't like hot dishes, don't despair.

You can try herbal oils and nutritional supplements like cayenne and turmeric capsules to enjoy the health benefits of spices without actually tasting them.

Posted by Matilda Jones