The big buzz word in nutrition is Antioxidants. I'm sure you've heard about foods that are high in antioxidants such as chocolate, red wine, and pomegranates. This study, published in Nutrition Journal, measured the antioxidant content in 3100 foods and herbs.
Antioxidants are related to prevention of DNA damage, cell repair, prevention of cancer, etc. Most of the findings in food are already common knowledge, but some were surprising, such as: espresso, pecans, walnuts. The berry category also had high levels but included some strange foods - wild dog rose and Indian gooseberry....good luck finding those.
Spices in order of antioxidant content: cloves, peppermint, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, saffron. ALL spices had very high levels of antioxidants.
The MOST antioxidant-rich category of foods was....herbal/plant medicine!! They studied traditional medicinal herbs from Peru, Japan, India, and Mexico. A formula called Goshuyu-tou (or I think Goshuyuto as it is more commonly referred?) made it on the Best Of list - which is a formula we prescribe in Chinese medicine.
The authors go on to say that foods like the fruits, nuts, chocolate, and berries have 5-33 more antioxidants than meat. Chinese herbs, like the spices and other plant-based foods we eat, can have beneficial effects far beyond their basic nutritional value. Like the life-nourishing effects of a good diet, Chinese herbs can be another avenue to achieve a balanced healthy lifestyle.
Cheryl House, L. Ac., DACM, FABORM