The beneficial effects of spices on food preservation and safety

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Spices have been used since ancient times.

Although they have been used primarily as flavoring and coloring agents, their role in food safety and preservation has also been studied in vitro and in vivo.

The spice has shown many health benefits in preventing and treating a wide range of diseases such as cancer, aging, metabolic, neurological, cardiovascular, and inflammatory diseases.

This review aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the latest and most important findings regarding spices and their active compounds in terms of objectives and mode of action; In particular, the possibility of its use in food preservation and promotion of shelf life as a natural biofactor.

While everyone has different tastes, we have put together a list of spices you will certainly want to consider keeping around.

But before we start this long list of spices make sure to check out 16 Piece Organic Spice Rack Organizer with Spices

Plus The 16-Jar Revolving Countertop Spice Rack Organizer .



This spice is also known as the “queen of spices” in India, the country of its origin.

Cardamom has a strong, pungent flavor that contains light hints of lemon and mint. Interestingly, it is a very versatile spice so it can be used to intensify sweet and savory flavors.

There are two types of cardamom that are commonly used in Indian cooking, as well as throughout the world: green and black.

Green cardamom is more commonly used than its black counterpart and has a very mild and sweet flavor.

It is often used in desserts and sweet drinks.

On the other hand, black cardamom has a very strong smoky flavor, so it is often used in spicy rice dishes and curries.

Cardamom has a very rich history in terms of its medicinal properties and has been used since ancient times as a digestive aid, as well as to treat inflammatory and respiratory diseases.



This is another fairly common Indian spice that was first found circulating in a port in Sri Lanka somewhere during 900-1100 AD.

However, it is native to the Molucca Islands which are now part of Indonesia. Cloves have a very distinct kind of sweet smell with both a sweet and spicy flavour.

An interesting historical fact about cloves is that before approaching their emperor, the Chinese had to put a few cloves in their mouths as a way to calm their breath.

This indicates that in the ancients, cloves were also used as mouth fresheners instead of the mint that is commonly used today.

Whole cloves are often used in curries and other liquids because they also provide aesthetic appeal while ground cloves are commonly used in a variety of desserts.

It is also used for a number of health-related purposes including dental pain, vomiting, nausea, and indigestion, to name a few.

Cassia Bark

Cassia Bark
Cassia Bark

This spice is also known as “Chinese cinnamon” and is often confused with other “real” cinnamon.

However, it is actually a member of the pea family. It has a very pungent flavor and is less delicate when compared to the flavor of real cinnamon.

Although cinnamon bark looks almost like cinnamon, it is actually quite different and is often used in savory dishes, especially in China.

Cassia bark is commonly grown and produced in Indonesia, China, and Burma and is ideal for homemade tea blends or spice blends.

Many people use this spice to treat muscle and stomach cramps, menstrual problems, joint pain, colds, high blood pressure, and many other health ailments.

Black Pepper

Black Pepper
Black Pepper

This has to be one of the most popular and consumed spices around the world. A pinch is added to almost every recipe you can imagine.

Black pepper originated from India, especially from the Malabar and Western Ghats. It comes from the berries of the pepper plant and you usually also find white and green peppercorns.

The difference in color is mainly caused by the different stages of growth.

Since ancient Greek times, pepper has been a treasured and prestigious spice because it was used as a currency as well as a sacred offering.

Black pepper has a unique spicy taste and is usually used to provide a mild heat boost to many recipes and dishes. Some of its amazing medicinal uses include using it as a laxative or to relieve congestion.



Cumin is one of the most common spices and is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa; However, it has become a very essential ingredient all over the world.

It is famous for its nutty and earthy flavor that consists of a light spice kick and a few hints of lemon.

One of its most distinguishing characteristics is the strong aroma paired with the unique brown seeds. Cumin can be used whole or ground form.

Either way, it adds a smoky touch to any dish and tastes absolutely delicious. Most people like to use freshly ground cumin in curries and vegetable dishes to get the most out of that strong, spicy flavor.

Cumin is one of the most popular spices that also has many health benefits related to weight loss, cholesterol, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more.

Curry Powder

Curry Powder
Curry Powder

It goes without saying that curry powder is a staple in curry dishes, but it can also be used to flavor many stews, pickles, and meats.



Nutmeg comes from a tropical evergreen tree native to the Moluccas Island in Indonesia, where it is also grown in abundance, as well as in the West Indies.

It is often used with cinnamon due to its similar pungent aroma and mild sweet taste. Although nutmeg is commonly used in baking and cold drinks, it is also an excellent addition to hearty dishes such as mutton and lamb recipes, vegetable stews, etc.

In ancient times, sometime around the 17th century, nutmeg became an expensive commercial spice in the Western world and was commonly used by the Dutch as a subject to keep prices high.

Some of the amazing health benefits of nutmeg include relieving indigestion, controlling diarrhea and loss of appetite.



Garlic is probably the most common and most common spice used in almost every kitchen that exists in the entire world.

Its popularity stems in large part from its ability to add incredible depth of flavor along with potency to any dish or meal.

As a spice, garlic is used in the form of garlic powder which is just crushed and dried garlic.

It is native to South Asia, Central Asia and southwestern Siberia. However, the consumption of garlic dates back several thousand years to ancient Egypt where it was popular as flavorings for food as well as in medicine.

Some of the unusual medicinal uses of garlic include preventing cancer, treating respiratory diseases, high blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol levels.

Garlic powder is commonly used in pasta, roast chicken, salad dressings, curries, and rice recipes – to name a few.



Like garlic, ginger is also known for its bold, pungent, and spicy flavour.

Many people have described its flavor as peppery and violent with hints of lemon. Ginger is also widely used in a variety of different desserts such as pumpkin pie and gingerbread.

Ginger is a perennial herbaceous plant that originated in the islands of Southeast Asia and was later transported across the Indo-Pacific. It is also often used in desserts and desserts that require a subtle kick of spice.

Ginger has long been associated with many health and medicinal benefits and has been used mainly as a digestive aid and to treat colds, flu, and coughs. It also plays a major role in Ayurvedic medicine.

Many cuisines involve the use of fresh ginger to prepare a variety of dishes such as curries, rice, soups, stews, etc.



Turmeric is another incredibly popular Indian spice with a combination of bitter and spicy flavour.

It is also known by other names such as Indian saffron and yellow ginger.

Turmeric is generally easily recognizable due to the bright color combination of yellow and orange.

Recently, turmeric has gained wide popularity as a “golden spice” and is now featured in drinks such as the “golden latte”.

This is primarily due to the many health benefits associated with this spice, for example, it is loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can prevent cancer.

The consumption of turmeric dates back 4,000 years to the Vedic culture of India, where this type of spices held great religious significance and was also commonly used for culinary purposes.

The intense color of this spice gives curries and other dishes a beautiful golden shade and a strong flavor that greatly increases the overall taste of any dish.



Known as one of the most expensive spices in the world, saffron has a very distinctive taste and brilliant orange-maroon color. The fact that saffron is more labor-intensive is the fact that saffron is more labor-intensive to produce among the main reasons why it is more valuable than gold in terms of weight and cost.

Saffron is basically a stigma of saffron flowers that are hand-picked. The best type of saffron is the one that has a beautiful, rich dark red color. In general, this particular variety comes from Spain, Iran and Kashmir.

Saffron is also known for its honey-like floral aroma that provides an incredibly aromatic scent to any food dish. The flavor of this spice is very unique and said to be very intense, which is one of the reasons why it is used in small amounts.

Saffron is often used as a sedative as well as a treatment for dry skin, PMS symptoms, and asthma



As the name suggests, allspice is a blend of all the other spices and features a wonderful blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves.

This combination of spices gives it a combination of sweet, spicy and pungent taste which is why it is commonly used in many food dishes for this intense depth of flavor.

The spice comes from Pimenta dioic which is an evergreen tree that belongs to the myrtle family. It is believed to be native to Jamaica, Honduras, and Guatemala.

According to historical evidence, Christopher Columbus discovered this spice in the Caribbean and brought it back to Spain.

The condiment is very popular in Jamaican cuisine, most notably its appearance in Jamaican jerk chicken.

It is also used in many desserts in a crushed form because of its distinctive flavor and aroma.

It has many medicinal uses and works as an excellent aid to the digestive system, in addition to treating muscle aches and toothaches.


Plants, animals and microbes represent an unlimited source of compounds with medicinal properties, since ancient times, humans have used spices as nutritional agents .

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a spice is “an aromatic plant substance in its whole, broken or ground form, whose important function is to season rather than nourish” and from which “no part of the volatile oil or other flavor principles has been removed.”

More than 100 types of spices are produced all over the world.

Asia is the leading producer of spices, especially cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, while Europe grows mainly basil, bay leaves, celery leaves, chives, coriander, dill tips, thyme and watercress.

In America, mainly pepper, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and sesame seeds are produced.

Although spices (mostly dried seeds, fruits, roots, bark, or plant materials) are used for rituals, cosmetics, and perfumes, in particular their flavors, coloring, and preservative properties have established wide applications both in traditional food preparation and in the food industry.

Importance of Spices

Spices have been important to mankind since the beginning of history.

Several mythological guides including the “Epic of Gilgamesh” and the “Bhagavad Gita” refer to its use for several purposes. Because of its strong preservative quality, the spice has also been used in embalming.

According to Ayurveda, it helps in maintaining the balance of the body’s humors. Besides, spices have been used to change the physical appearance of food.

For example, pepper and turmeric have changed the color, appearance, and taste of food with many health benefits. Ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon help improve digestion, and are considered beneficial for spleen and sore throats.

Unfortunately, this beneficial effect of the spice has not been clinically proven. However, traditional practices emphasize the health benefits of the spice.

Ultimately, recent studies have shed light on the spice’s other biological functions, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.

Spices for Food Preservation and Safety

Food spoilage refers to an irreversible modification in which the food becomes inedible or its quality is compromised.

These changes can be driven by various factors, either physical (oxygen, temperature, light) and/or biological (enzymatic activity and microbial growth).

Despite the current technologies available in the production chain (eg freezing, pasteurization, drying, preservatives), it seems impossible to completely eliminate the risk of food spoilage.

Fat oxidation is one of the main issues of food spoilage.

Hence, the food industry has used antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) to prevent spoilage.

However, their safety is questionable and consumers are increasingly demanding natural compounds.

That is why spices are an effective tool for the food industry thanks to their natural properties. Another problem with food spoilage is the growth of microbes.

Spices can also exert antimicrobial activity in two ways: by preventing the growth of spoiled microorganisms (food preservation), and by inhibiting/regulating the growth of those pathogens.

Antimicrobial Potential in Real Food Model System (In vivo)

Several natural compounds have been isolated from the spice with antimicrobial properties. However, laboratory studies represent only one part of the use of active compounds as preservatives in food.

Moreover, their physical and biochemical properties have been altered in real food systems due to the complexity of food matrices.

Therefore, whether spices or their ingredients have the ability to prevent food spoilage and act as food preservatives has been determined in various studies.

Although many studies have demonstrated the possible applications of spices and their derivatives as food preservatives, only a few are currently applied in the market.

For example, rosemary is already used for its preservative properties in meat products. Rosemary essential oil has been used not only for its flavor compounds but also for its antimicrobial and antioxidant activity.

In fact, chernosic acid, one of its main components, is not only antimicrobial but possesses higher antioxidant activity than the common food additives, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole.



Starting with food preparation, spices can affect food spoilage microorganisms (food preservation) and human pathogens (food safety) due to the antimicrobial and anti-bug activity of their natural ingredients.

Seasoning is made from natural herbs and plants and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the need for a large amount of natural compounds represents the main limitation for effective performance against microorganisms.

Mostly, their sensory properties may influence the results of experiments in vitro and in vivo. For this reason, spice formulations or their pure natural compounds, applied with or without additional techniques, represent a promising alternative to avoid this problem.

Synergistic effects can reduce both the natural compounds used and the treatment applied. In many cases, additive activities have also been reported.

The study of spices, natural compounds, and new synthesis techniques could inspire the development of new or improved molecules that work against spoiled microorganisms.

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