Updated 8th May 2024

The medicines in your spice rack, with Kanchan Koya

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In today’s episode, Jonathan and Sarah are joined by molecular biologist Kanchan Koya to explore the incredible health benefits of spices, from controlling blood sugar to soothing a sore throat.

We’ll discover what the latest research says about household favorites, including ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. 

Kanchan Koya is a food scientist and founder of the spice-centered food blog Chief Spice Mama. She’s also the author of the cookbook Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table. Kanchan will show us how to get the most out of spices, with simple cooking tips and delicious recipes. 

Want to make Kanchan’s showstopper spice dish?  Find the recipe here.

If you want to uncover the right foods for your body, head to zoe.com/podcast, and get 10% off your personalized nutrition program.

Follow ZOE on Instagram.

Find our top 10 tips for healthier living: Download our FREE guide.

Is there a nutrition topic you’d like us to explore? Email us at podcast@joinzoe.com, and we’ll do our best to cover it.

Episode transcripts are available here.

ZOE Science & Nutrition

Join us on a journey of scientific discovery.


[00:00:00] Jonathan Wolf: Welcome to ZOE Science & Nutrition, where world-leading scientists explain how their research can improve your health.

Today we're going to learn about the medicines hiding in your spice rack. Now, the spice rack is a staple in most kitchens. It's where we go when we want to give our meals some punch or flavor. But traditionally in Indian homes, spices are used for more than just flavor. In fact, the spice box, or dabba, is thought of like a medicine cabinet.

My guest today is Kanchan Koya, a molecular biologist turned food scientist, and the founder of the spice-centered food blog Chief Spice Mama. She's also the author of Spice Spice Baby

I'm also joined by Dr. Sarah Berry. Sarah is a world leader in large-scale human nutritional studies, associate professor in nutrition at King's College London, and chief scientist at ZOE.

Today, we'll find out what the latest science says about spices. We'll be putting household favorites under the microscope to find their hidden health benefits. Kanchan will also share some of her favorite recipes to help you spice up your life.

Kanchan, thank you for joining us today. 

[00:01:20] Kanchan Koya: Thanks for having me. 

[00:01:21] Jonathan Wolf: It's brilliant to be able to do it in person. Now, you should be ready for this because you've done it before. We have this tradition here at ZOE where we always start with a quick-fire round of questions from our listeners. You can give us a yes or a no, or if you absolutely have to, you can give us a sentence.

Are you ready to give it another go? 

[00:01:38] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, let's do it. 

[00:01:39] Jonathan Wolf: All right, we're going to start soft. Are there medicines hiding in our spice rack? 

[00:01:44] Kanchan Koya: Yes.

[00:01:45] Dr. Sarah Berry: Is there evidence that spices can help treat arthritis? 

[00:01:50] Kanchan Koya: Maybe. 

[00:01:51] Dr. Sarah Berry: Can spices improve our blood sugar control? 

[00:01:55] Kanchan Koya: Yes. 

[00:01:56] Dr. Sarah Berry: Interesting. 

[00:01:57] Jonathan Wolf: Can the way that I cook or prepare spices actually affect their health benefits?

[00:02:01] Kanchan Koya: Yes.

[00:02:02] Dr. Sarah Berry: Should we be having spices in every meal? 

[00:02:05] Kanchan Koya: Yes. 

[00:02:06] Jonathan Wolf: And finally, what's the most surprising thing that you've discovered about spices? 

[00:02:11] Kanchan Koya: How few people use them on a routine basis. So hopefully we're here to change that. 

[00:02:16] Jonathan Wolf: Amazing. Well, look, the last time you came, we were sort of talking about how adding spices to your diet can be good for our health and that there's some real science behind that.

I left that conversation very motivated Kanchan. I was like, that's amazing. You did this brilliant job of explaining how easy it was. And I am now adding a variety of spices to my breakfast, which is exciting. I've even managed to convince my daughter that sumac is something she should add onto her avocado, so I'm very proud about that.

And then I have to be honest, I sort of lost the thread, remained intimidated, and haven't really managed to add anything to any other part of my diet. So I'm looking forward to this as my next step in understanding what you can do with spice and how it can both clearly change the taste of your meals, which is exciting, but also how it can potentially be good for your health. 

Can we start right at the beginning, though? Because I think many people listening to this will not have had a chance to hear from you before. Would you start with what is a spice? 

[00:03:10] Kanchan Koya: The formal definition of a spice is that it's the root, the bark, the bud, the fruit, and the leaf. Although that can get a little tricky sometimes because leaves are more herbs than spices. 

Usually dried, those parts of the plant, once dried, constitute a spice. They're often used in small amounts. for flavoring in food and hopefully, as will inspire people today, also to boost the health properties of food.

But yeah, that's traditionally the formal definition of a spice. 

[00:03:39] Jonathan Wolf: And it's obviously started, something that just tasted really nice in our food, right? But I think now, and this is where your own research started, we understand they're high in these things called polyphenols. Can you explain what those are?

[00:03:52] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, so I would actually say that thousands of years ago when spices were first discovered, people did love how they made food taste. But actually, our ancestors also recognized that spices had additional properties like the ability to preserve food in the absence of refrigeration thousands of years ago.

So I think there was an understanding as evidenced by the fact that people waged wars and conquests were undertaken for the spice trade, that there was more to it than just flavor alone. But now we obviously have science catching up to some of that ancient kind of intuitive wisdom. 

So polyphenols are essentially a group of naturally occurring compounds that are highly prevalent in the plant kingdom, and for reasons that we'll hopefully discuss, really enriched in herbs and spices, and highly concentrated. Phenols are just a type of chemical structure, and polyphenols just means that a lot of these compounds have multiple phenolic kind of units. 

But if you wanna just simplify it, they're essentially chemicals phytochemicals found in the plant kingdom that happen to play a role in plants but also have some beneficial effects in our bodies 

[00:05:00] Dr. Sarah Berry: And Kanchan, I always think that all of the chemicals that are in plants have magical functions because they're there to preserve the plant itself. So if we take seed oils, for example, they're enriched with so much vitamin E because it's a natural antioxidant. So it kind of protects the plant. 

And this is the same with polyphenols in plants. They're there as a natural defense for the plant itself. 

[00:05:25] Kanchan Koya: You know, let's just simplify it to UV radiation. So plants grow outside, they're subject to UV radiation and UV radiation at high enough levels. 

[00:05:31] Jonathan Wolf: This is from the sun. 

[00:05:33] Kanchan Koya: Right, can start to cause something called oxidative stress. It just means that it can damage DNA and it can cause a buildup of what's called free radicals.

Now our bodies or plant cells have an ability to clear those free radicals, but these polyphenols can help. They can neutralize, or let's say clear away, mop up, vacuum up some of these free radicals that once they accumulate can start to cause cellular damage. 

[00:05:58] Jonathan Wolf: You're saying they need the sun in order to photosynthesize but actually can still harm them.

[00:06:02] Kanchan Koya: Yes. 

[00:06:03] Jonathan Wolf: As you're saying that these polyphenols are part of what's like built into them to protect them from this damage. 

[00:06:07] Kanchan Koya: Exactly. And another example would be microbes. So a lot of these polyphenols have antimicrobial activity and you have microbes that might be predators or predatorial to the plant and the plant needs to protect itself.

So, you know, whether you're looking at antioxidant capacity, antimicrobial capacity, or some other kind of attributes of these polyphenols. at a basic level, they are thought to exist to protect the plant. 

[00:06:33] Jonathan Wolf: So you're describing, I think, polyphenols as being in all plants. Why are there so many in spices? Why many more than there are maybe than just the piece of broccoli that you mentioned before?

[00:06:42] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, so I have to do a little bit of hand waving because we don't really know, but the idea is that the parts of the plant that are more exposed to the elements, so like the bark of the tree, or the root in the ground, or the bud or the seed, which would be exposed to some of these threats, if you will, would be highly enriched in these polyphenols.

And that's why spices specifically, because of where they're found in the plant, are really, really concentrated in these compounds. 

[00:07:09] Dr. Sarah Berry: That's fascinating. 

[00:07:10] Jonathan Wolf: So you've done this beautiful story, I think, about like why the polyphenols are there in the plant. And I can definitely visualize this now in like the hard weather and the sun and then these darn animals coming to eat you because you can't move, right? So I can see that it makes sense. 

Could you talk through the next step, which is what's not obvious to me is what happens when you eat this, why that would help me. Because I'm not a plant, why therefore these spices and polyphenols more broadly turn out to be healthy for a human being?

[00:07:38] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, so I'm gonna approach that question in two ways. One is I'm going to talk about the specific antioxidant potential of a lot of these polyphenols. 

So going back to this idea of oxidative stress, every time your cell divides, every time you undergo any cellular process, there is a production of free radicals.  These are just radicals that have a free oxygen on them that can then interact with proteins or DNA and sometimes cause damage. This is just a normal part of cellular metabolism. And polyphenols and spices can neutralize these free radicals. So they have this antioxidant capacity. So that's one way in which they help us when we ingest them.

And the second way is actually something that we call hormesis in biology, which is a little bit of stress is good for you. So exercise is a great example. When you look at the effects of exercise on the human body in the short term, you actually see a lot of things go up in the short term that seem like they wouldn't be a good idea. Like blood pressure goes up, a little bit of inflammation goes up, and you think, well, that can't be good. 

But then what happens is once the stressor has been removed, you actually have greater cellular resilience. Now you have lower inflammation and lower blood pressure. So spice polyphenols…

[00:08:54] Jonathan Wolf: This is what my trainer tells me all the time during the training session, it feels really painful and it hurts, but in the long run, it's good for me. Which is what I always tell myself as I'm in the middle of the session wondering why I've done this to myself and you're saying there's something sort of similar with eating this food.

[00:09:10] Kanchan Koya: Yes, so fasting is an example. In the short term, it can feel a little stressful and intense, but then long term, we know it can build some cellular resilience, help metabolic health. blood sugar control, that sort of thing. 

So spice polyphenols can be thought of as this short-term stressor, which is why they work as this defense compound against predators. And in our bodies, they also act in this way. They actually act as a little bit of a stressor, which then activates our own cellular antioxidant pathways. 

So a great example would be, and I don't want to get too technical, but there's a pathway that is the master regulator of antioxidant status called the Nrf2 pathway. And a lot of these polyphenols will activate our own cellular repair pathways because they are creating a little bit of stress through this mechanism of hormesis just like exercise or fasting.

[00:10:01] Dr. Sarah Berry: And I think the polyphenol research that's coming out now is fascinating. It's quite an exploding area of research, Jonathan, in the nutrition field. We know that people are having high polyphenol diets, whether it's from herbs or spices or other foods. So, for example, polyphenols are found in very heavily pigmented kind of berries and vegetables, it's polyphenols often give their color to fruits and vegetables. 

[00:10:24] Jonathan Wolf: Is that sort of eat the rainbow? 

[00:10:27] Dr. Sarah Berry: Yes. You know, the dark green leafy veg, the berries, you know, et cetera. There's so much research, isn't there Kanchan, coming out now showing that polyphenols are linked to all sorts of improvements in health, whether it be cancer, whether it be type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, you know, any inflammatory-related disease.

And I think this is because there's evidence emerging around polyphenols beyond oxidative stress, around inflammation, about blood sugar control. 

I wonder if this is something that you've looked into or could talk a little bit more about, especially in terms of maybe some blood sugar control attributes of polyphenols.

[00:11:01] Kanchan Koya: So yeah, I think blood sugar control is a great one to look at because since the last time I was on the ZOE podcast, there has actually been a randomized controlled trial in humans, which unfortunately in the spice world are pretty rare. 

I guess there just aren't the right incentives to, you know, spend all this money to show that like cinnamon or cumin can have a benefit because there's not so much patentability around these spices. 

But there was a study that came out very recently out of UCLA in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and it was a randomized controlled trial looking at the impact of cinnamon over four weeks in culinary amounts on blood sugar control using CGM. So there has been… 

[00:11:44] Jonathan Wolf: There's blood sugar sensors on there.

[00:11:45] Kanchan Koya: Exactly. So there have been quite a few studies looking at the impact of cinnamon on blood sugar, and there have been mixed results because people haven't always been able to use continuous glucose monitors. And sometimes there's been an effect, sometimes there hasn't. 

So this group at UCLA really wanted to kind of use more cutting-edge blood sugar monitoring technology. And they also wanted to look at exposure to culinary amounts of cinnamon. So they used…  

[00:12:11] Jonathan Wolf: That means what I would use if I was just cooking at home. Is that what you mean? As opposed to eating like half a bowl full of it each day to try and get a big dose. 

[00:12:19] Kanchan Koya: Precisely. So they looked at four grams of cinnamon a day.

They had to put it in a capsule because it was a randomized double-blinded. study. So they didn't want people to know they were having a sprinkling of cinnamon versus placebo. 

And what they found is that using the continuous glucose monitor, they observed reductions, statistically significant reductions in 24-hour glucose concentrations in the group that was exposed to four grams of cinnamon a day for four weeks. Versus the placebo. And so…

[00:12:50] Jonathan Wolf: That's amazing because that's not very much cinnamon what you're describing, right?

[00:12:54] Kanchan Koya: So four grams is thought to be equivalent to about two teaspoons. Which is not a sprinkling but it's absolutely achievable. I mean we can talk later…  

[00:13:04] Jonathan Wolf: My daughter is delighted to have that in her oatmeal in the morning. I can tell you without any trouble.

[00:13:09] Dr. Sarah Berry: I'll have it in a pastry. 

[00:13:12] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, well, there have been studies in the past looking at the addition of cinnamon to sweet treats like rice pudding and the ability of just a teaspoon of cinnamon to sort of mitigate the blood sugar rise after something like that.

I will say that in this particular study, which was randomized and pretty well done, they didn't observe a reduction in post-meal glucose concentrations after cinnamon. And they don't really know why. They think it may be the way the oral glucose tolerance tests are conducted and variability there.

So anyway, I think overall, the message is, if you want to work on more balanced blood sugar, obviously you do a lot of things for that. You should never think of a spice as a silver bullet solution to anything, but within the context of otherwise health-promoting behaviors and a healthy dietary pattern, it can be a great idea to add more cinnamon.

[00:14:07] Jonathan Wolf: Well, I think it's a beautiful demonstration, isn't it, that even a small amount of this particular plant with these very strong polyphenol properties can have some impact. And I think what you're saying is obviously you can't just go and eat pastry from Starbucks all day and put a bit of cinnamon on it and expect to have a fantastic health outcome.

But I guess you what you're saying, but if you think about that as almost like a proof of principle, I guess, and think about how you layer this on top, it's quite exciting.

[00:14:31] Kanchan Koya: Right? I think it's. It's the way we think like, oh, you can't out-supplement a poor diet in the same way you can't kind of hack your way with spices through a poor diet.

But you can definitely enhance the quality of the diet by also adding spices. And I would argue also making food more exciting and delicious. 

[00:14:49] Dr. Sarah Berry: Yeah. And I think as well as blood sugar, another really important area related to spices is inflammation. And we now know that inflammation chronically, if it's in the wrong place, the wrong time, and excessive, can increase our risk of so many diseases.

And it's actually inflammation that we think underpins the link between diet and many chronic diseases. I think this is a really exciting area of research related to polyphenols, but also to spices, and it would be great to hear your view on that.  

[00:15:15] Kanchan Koya: Yeah so the study that we talked about last time that I would love to mention again is the one out of Penn State that looked at the addition of a spice blend. 

It was many spices in the blend and they added this to sort of a standard American diet, a typical hamburger meal. So, you know, something that isn't great for you. And they gave people the meal either with or without the spice blend. And they basically found reductions in inflammatory markers right after the meal when the meal had the spice blend.

And I think that's really empowering and exciting because again, it was culinary amounts of spices. I'm sure the burger tasted better with the blend versus without the blend. And there was this real reduction in biomarkers of inflammation right after the meal. 

So, you know, that got people really excited because up until then we only really had some in vitro and animal studies on the inflammatory effects of spices. And now we had an actual human trial. 

And since then, there have been some more studies looking at the impacts of specific spices on inflammatory conditions like arthritis. So there was a study that got quite a bit of buzz looking at turmeric supplementation versus traditional sort of NSAIDs or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs that many people use for arthritis but have some side effects, especially on gut health.

And they found that turmeric supplements worked as well as the NICIDs without the negative side effects. Now the issue there is that they did use quite high concentrations of curcumin, which is the bioactive polyphenol in turmeric. So I think it's not clear that you can achieve the same therapeutic effect with turmeric in the diet if you have full-blown arthritis.

But if you are looking to lower inflammation and you know, just prevent an inflammatory condition. I think that a case can be made for just adding more of these anti-inflammatory spices to your kind of regular rotation. 

[00:17:11] Dr. Sarah Berry: And so Kanchan, when they've looked cross-sectionally at people, so at one point in time, those people that have a higher amount of particular spices, do they see that those populations have lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, lower incidence of heart arthritis, lower incidence of these chronic diseases that are underpinned by inflammation?

[00:17:32] Kanchan Koya: Right, so, there's a couple of studies that have looked at either specific spices or spice blends. 

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So, there were studies that looked at the ingestion of chili peppers and actually all-cause mortality. So they weren't specifically looking at these conditions. But they actually have found in a couple of these observational studies that regular chili pepper consumption does seem to reduce all-cause mortality and… 

[00:17:57] Jonathan Wolf: Which is death, right? Scientists sometimes use very fancy words.

[00:18:03] Kanchan Koya: And the thought is that chili peppers have these anti-inflammatory compounds like capsaicin that may impact chronic inflammation, systemic chronic inflammation. I mean, again, it's a bit of hand-waving because we don't have a clear understanding around the mechanism.

And I think in the last episode with you guys, Tim mentioned some data with the ZOE Predict study with chili peppers and changes in the gut microbiome that were more favorable toward an anti-inflammatory state.  

[00:18:31] Jonathan Wolf: I wanted to ask about the microbiome for a minute because we sort of not talked very much about it, but I know in other podcasts we've done often, we've talked about the way that these bacteria inside our gut might be sort of the critical step between eating these compounds that maybe we as human beings can't even really break down, don't do anything. But these bacteria inside us have this capacity to break it down and then create these chemicals that then go into our body and have all of these benefits.

Is that what's going on with spices? 

[00:19:00] Kanchan Koya: I think that's definitely playing a role. And there was a study in Nutrients [journal] that looked at the prebiotic effects of the polyphenols and spices. So they looked at a blend of spices again, encapsulated because it was a randomized control trial, and they found changes in the gut microbiota that seemed to be more favorable upon spice exposure versus not. 

I think it's an early area of research and I'm sure there's going to be more coming out on what specific changes are occurring in the gut microbiome in response to which spices. But I think it's fair to say that while spices have direct anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects at a cellular level, they are definitely prebiotics for the gut microbiome, which are then also playing a role in their beneficial effects.

[00:19:43] Dr. Sarah Berry: And I think this partly goes back to the whole area of polyphenols, that there's lots of species in our gut that convert polyphenols to their active form. So convert them to a form in which they have this kind of almost pharmacological-like properties in our body.

[00:20:00] Jonathan Wolf: So what you're saying is there are these sort of species in our gut that are taking in the spice, can turn into something, something turns this into pharmacology. You're saying it sort of becomes a drug for us suddenly, for something that is not a drug, you need the microbe to sort of translate, it's almost like it's unwrapping it, you know. 

[00:20:15] Dr. Sarah Berry: Totally. Love that analogy. So it's taking something that is quite inactive, i.e. it's all wrapped up, using your analogy, and it's unwrapping it and then creating a more active form that goes on to have these properties.  

[00:20:26] Jonathan Wolf: So it’s like those pharmacy tabs you get sometimes, that are almost impossible to open the darn thing. Particularly when you're really sick, they're always those things you can't break into because they think that somehow your small child is going to be…

So you're saying that my microbes are sort of wrapping, unwrapping this thing, getting it out and therefore presumably, depending upon the microbes you have, they may be more or or less effective.

[00:20:45] Dr. Sarah Berry: Yeah and I think what Kanchan was referring to is the work from our ZOE Predict 1 study where we looked in a thousand individuals at the prevalence of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of different gut microbiome species. And then we looked at people's diet. And what we found is quite a clear association between certain spices, certain herbs, and certain gut species.

[00:21:07] Jonathan Wolf: Brilliant. Well, I would love to move from generically why spices are exciting. And I think that is, once again, I'm really not eating enough spices, on to actually talking about spices. In a practical way, thinking about what can we do. 

Kanchan this time you have brought something fun to show us. Is that right? 

[00:21:29] Kanchan Koya: So I brought a spice box. So in India, where I grew up, pretty much every family has a spice box. We call it a dabba. It's just a big box with little tins inside and every family has one and it looks a little bit different depending on where you're from in India and what spices you prefer.

There's some overlap. There's always turmeric, there's always chili pepper, and then a few differences. So I brought one today showcasing some whole spices like cinnamon, star anise, ginger and a couple of others. 

[00:21:59] Jonathan Wolf: Amazing and I remember that last time you said that growing up in India, traditionally this wasn't just about making food taste better. Is that right? 

[00:22:09] Kanchan Koya: Yes. So the spice box in India is really an integral part of our ‘farmacy’, F-A-R-M, ‘farmacy’. And it's rooted in the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda, which growing up I sort of rolled my eyes at and thought it wasn't serious science. 

And then only when I became a Ph.D. student and my lab began to study curcumin and turmeric for breast cancer was I reminded that maybe some of this ancient wisdom is actually proving to be correct. 

[00:22:36] Jonathan Wolf: I just want to be really clear here, right? So you are not saying, hey, any of these spices are replacement for modern drugs. You're saying, however, there are some real properties in them, and we can learn something from that.

And I guess that in a lot of modern drugs are sort of refined versions of compounds that are available in the natural world, aren't they? I think about aspirin is the thing that I remember learning about when I was a kid. 

[00:22:59] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, absolutely. So shikimic acid, which is the starting point in the synthesis of Tamiflu, which is one of our most successful antiviral drugs, actually comes from star anise, which is in my spice box.

[00:23:12] Jonathan Wolf: Amazing. So Kanchan, you just sort of pulled out a metal tin with, I think, what is that, six or so compartments that look beautiful with different colors and these are sort of a bit looks like the bits of plant. Could you just talk us through what you've got in front of us? 

[00:23:28] Kanchan Koya: So I have two different varieties of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger, and ground turmeric.

[00:23:36] Jonathan Wolf: And I would say like the cinnamon both look a bit sort of like pieces of bark, don't they, Sarah? The star anise, did you say? Literally looks like little stars. Then I would say, the cloves looks like a bit of sticks have fallen on the ground that you think your children has brought in. And then the turmeric is this amazing yellow color against everything else.

So there's like a real contrast here with all the colors. could you talk us through what you might do with one of these things? 

[00:24:05] Kanchan Koya: Yeah. So what I really want to show here is how you can wake up a spice by gently crushing it before you expose it to heat in the cooking process. So if you take a cinnamon bark here and I'm just going to smell it and ask you to kind of take a whiff of the bark. 

[00:24:23] Dr. Sarah Berry: It's a gentle smell.

[00:24:25] Jonathan Wolf: It doesn't smell very much, like a little bit. 

[00:24:27] Kanchan Koya: Right, and then I'm just going to place it in my mortar and pestle and kind of gently smash it open. 

[00:24:34] Jonathan Wolf: Which is like a stone bowl that you're whacking with a sort of stone hammer, basically, right?

[00:24:37] Kanchan Koya: Exactly. And you can definitely do this with your kids. They love it. It's really a sensory experience. And now you take a whiff of the crushed cinnamon, which I just gently crushed for like a couple of seconds.  

[00:24:50] Jonathan Wolf: Let me see… That smells amazing. I would say as someone who doesn't ever break the spices themselves, what's striking is how much more powerful the smell is than the ready-ground cinnamon I use at home, sort of 10 times stronger, I would say. 

[00:25:06] Kanchan Koya: There's an activation of the flavor-enhancing and health-enhancing volatile polyphenols when you smash you smash it. 

[00:25:13] Jonathan Wolf: Just because you smashed it up. 

[00:25:13] Kanchan Koya: Right. You can do the same thing in a little spice grinder, like a coffee grinder that you've dedicated to spices, and then you'll use it in the dish right away and you'll have this explosion of aroma and flavor.

When you buy pre-ground spice, it has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Some people think two years or so for the average spice. So there's been a passage of time between the harvesting, the crushing, and then the powder form. It doesn't mean that there are no benefits and there's no flavor. Of course there is.

But the reason I'm demonstrating this is because it's just important to know that spices are almost like living, breathing. Well, not really, but they're really packed with these bioactives that have the ability to get truly enhanced when we cook with them. 

And so for example, here we have star anise. And I was talking about how star anise actually has a compound called shikimic acid, which is the starting point in the synthesis of Tamiflu. And so whenever I have a cold, I will throw a star anise pod in my chai, which is my Indian spice tea and I'll have ginger in there, which I also have here. So I'm just going to break a little bit of ginger and throw that into my spice mix.

I have some cloves. Cloves are really interesting. Cloves are really interesting because they are thought to have some of the highest antioxidant potential. amongst all spices. They're also thought to have some antiseptic and analgesic properties, which means that they can relieve topical pain.

So if you've ever been to the dentist and they put clove oil on a painful tooth, that's because clove has some topical pain-relieving properties. 

[00:26:55] Dr. Sarah Berry: There's actually science behind that. It's not a myth. 

[00:26:57] Kanchan Koya: No, it's not a myth. And when I have a sore throat, I just pop a whole clove in my mouth and just kind of keep it there like a lozenge almost. It's not the most lozengy or safe, sweet taste. It's a little bit potent, but it really does seem to help.

[00:27:09] Dr. Sarah Berry: Does it alleviate the sore throat? 

[00:27:11] Kanchan Koya: Yes, I think so, because of its topical pain-relieving properties. At least in my N of 1 experiment for, I don't know that there's been a trial looking at a whole clove popped in the mouth for a sore throat.

[00:27:20] Jonathan Wolf: But it works for you. 

[00:27:21] Kanchan Koya: Yes, there have been some studies looking at clove oil, for sure, and pain relief. 

[00:27:24] Dr. Sarah Berry: And Kanchan, going back to the cinnamon bark, so once you crushed it, like you said, it released. all the kind of bioactives. It smelled really fragrant. 

A lot of the time you see people just add the bark uncrushed to foods, you know, like in its whole form. You see this with so many different herbs and spices that people added in. They say, Oh, it's going to flavor it. Does that have any health benefits, or do we need to be crushing these? 

[00:27:51] Kanchan Koya: It definitely still has health benefits, especially if you put the bark into, say, a tea and then you simmer it. That heat will actually draw out some of the bioactives. But if you crush it before, you're going to get an even greater enhancement.

So if you have a few seconds and you have a mortar and pestle and you can crush your cinnamon and then throw it into your tea, it's going to have a greater activation of the bioactives and the volatile compounds. 

[00:28:16] Jonathan Wolf: So basically crush your spices first before you use them in whatever way you want to use them.

[00:28:21] Kanchan Koya: Yeah.

[00:28:21] Dr. Sarah Berry: And then Kanchan, picking up on the comment you said about heat, this is something that we think about a lot in nutrition around how exposure to air, to light, to heat, impacts whether the particular nutrient is able to be in its active form. 

So we know that heat often deactivates a lot of chemicals that are in food when you heat them. What about with spices? Should we be heating them or shouldn't we? 

[00:28:49] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, so I think the nuanced answer is that it depends. But for the most part, spice polyphenols do get activated with heat. There is a couple of exceptions. 

So, turmeric, for example, is really activated and made more bioavailable with heat and fat. Which is why you'll see the Indian grandmas often blooming the spice in oil or ghee. 

[00:29:15] Jonathan Wolf: What does that mean?

[00:29:16] Kanchan Koya: Blooming. So it's a culinary term for where you add a spice to a fat source for about 30 to 60 seconds and almost see it bloom like a flower in the fat and that's thought to activate a lot of the bioactives.

So curcumin in turmeric is indeed activated with heat and fat and becomes more bioavailable. It's also more bioavailable when you pair it with black pepper, which is why people always say add a pinch of black pepper to your golden milk to really boost the bioavailability. 

There are some spices like sumac, which I know you mentioned, Jonathan, that you enjoy on your avocado toast. Sumac contains anthocyanins, which are those powerful antioxidant plant pigments. And those are actually more sensitive to heat, which is why you'll often see people sprinkling sumac on hummus or baba ghanoush or a fattoush salad in the Middle East instead of cooking with it. 

[00:30:06] Jonathan Wolf: Which is why I use it, it's so easy. I don't have to do all of this complex cooking that I don't really know what I'm doing. I can just throw it on something cold. 

But you're saying for most of these beautiful spices, I think for everyone who's not seen this on YouTube, but just on audio, they look gorgeous. In general, they have to be both broken down and what you're saying is most of the time in part,  cooked in some way to get this heat, in order to really unlock not just the taste but also the health benefits.

[00:30:32] Kanchan Koya: Yeah and I would say that we're really scratching the surface when it comes to spice polyphenols. Because, for example, with cinnamon, we know cinnamon has cinnamaldehyde, which is definitely activated with heat, but it also has other polyphenols that we may not have yet discovered that may be actually heat sensitive.

So, my recommendation is, cook with the spices, crush them, add them to your teas, your stews, your soups, but also don't shy away from using them sprinkled raw on things because for many people that's way easier. I think you're still getting beneficial polyphenol effects. It's just that the ones we best understand seem to be activated with heat.

[00:31:13] Dr. Sarah Berry: So the dabba that you have there has got all beautiful fresh spices. For the majority of people, we have jars at home that might have been sitting there for several years, especially if you're not using them very regularly. Is there kind of a use-by that you would suggest? Because on the back of the jar, I mean, it says forever almost.

And is fresh better? Is dried still good? And after what period of time should we be chucking them out of our cupboards? 

[00:31:39] Kanchan Koya: Right. So if you have a really old jar, I would open it and take a little whiff and see if there's any aroma at all. The aroma is actually indicative of a lot of the compounds still being around.

So if you open a jar and it smells like nothing, maybe it's time to toss it. You can try to salvage a very old jar by actually heating it for the reasons we just discussed. So take the spice and put it in a little skillet and dry toast it and see if that activates some of the aroma. If it's a whole spice, crush it.

And if you're still getting nothing, Maybe it's time to go and you need a fresh batch. But you can reawaken some old spices by crushing or heat. 

Whole spices will last a lot longer than ground spices because all of those bioactives are still kind of protected within the structure of the whole spice. So if you buy a whole spice, I think you can easily have it sit around for one to two years.

And then when you grind it, my rule of thumb is three to six months. Try to use it up within three to six months, and if you've bought it pre-ground, also try to use it up within three to six months. And then importantly, store it away from heat and light, which will activate those volatile compounds.

So, as tempting as it is to keep it right next to your stove, have it in a drawer, maybe a little bit removed from the stove or the oven and have it in a sealed tight jar away from heat and light for sort of maximum shelf life. 

[00:33:05] Dr. Sarah Berry: I'm wondering if we can dive a little bit into a few of the spices that you've got there and their specific properties.

And one thing I'm really interested in having had two children and having had morning sickness is ginger. And so most women are recommended to suck on ginger or have ginger tea or have ginger biscuits to help with morning sickness. I actually don't like ginger, unfortunately, but I had so much of it when I was pregnant. It didn't do anything for me. 

Can you tell me a little bit about the evidence relating ginger to morning sickness and also all the other properties that ginger and health outcomes that ginger has been related to? 

[00:33:41] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, so there've been quite a lot of studies on ginger and its bioactive gingerol, and its effects on digestion, gut health, and nausea.

There are studies looking at how ginger can impact gut transit time, so the amount of time it takes for food to traverse the gut, which can help with digestive distress, flatulence, bloating, that sort of thing. 

[00:34:04] Dr. Sarah Berry: We can't mention gut transit time at ZOE without talking about our gut transit time research that was published in Gut last year.

It's the biggest study ever in the world looking at gut transit time. And what we asked everyone to do was to add some blue dye to their food and measure how long it took for the blue dye to go from when they ate the food to when it appeared in the poo. 

And that's what the transit time is just saying how long it takes from when you eat it, to coming out, and we found that this was associated with health outcomes and gut microbiome. So if anyone does want to measure their gut transit time, go get some blue dye or eat some sweet corn and look how long it takes to come out in the poo. 

[00:34:46] Kanchan Koya: Yes, I've done the gut transit time experiment with the blue dye and I loved it. And I had healthy gut transit time. I would love to see a study where somebody does that plus or minus ginger. 

[00:34:57] Dr. Sarah Berry: Yeah, plus ginger. That's what I was thinking would be really good. 

[00:34:59] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, that would be amazing. So there are studies in animal models and smaller human studies looking at impact, positive impacts on gut transit time. Also positive impacts on the gut microbiota, again, sort of shifting the gut microbiome towards more anti-inflammatory.

There really doesn't seem to be any downside to ginger unless you suffer from heartburn and GERD, acid reflux, in which case too much ginger can actually be aggravating. So it can help digestive symptoms but too much can sort of aggravate heartburn. So really play with it.

Also, there's a small study looking at the impact of ginger on PMS symptoms. And people, women observed an improvement in some PMS symptoms with ginger and turmeric. So I think more studies are required, but we have enough evidence through the body of literature that it might have effects on digestion, nausea, and PMS symptoms.

[00:35:56] Jonathan Wolf: I feel that having seen these, I really want to now talk about, okay, how could we use them. Which I think I suspect that I'm not the only person who's listening to this is like, okay, I really liked the idea of using these spices, but I'm pretty lost. 

Like you picked up that pestle and mortar. I'm already not really sure how to use that. When is it ready? And then how could I actually apply this to some meals? 

So actually maybe you could just start by explaining. You've thrown in a whole bunch of those. Spices into that pestle and mortar. Could you just talk us through what do you do with it? How do you know when it's ready?

And then maybe you could just maybe take us through maybe starting with breakfast, how we could start to apply these spices into our diet in a really practical way. And we will make sure we put this in the show notes as well for people like me who listen to it and then feel lost the next day.

[00:36:44] Kanchan Koya: Yeah. So I want to take a step back because what I really want to do is empower people to use more spices, more regularly, in their daily cooking. 

And so I think a mortar and pestle and freshly ground spices are lovely to showcase, but they can be intimidating for the home cook who is busy, has kids, is sort of, you know, juggling a bunch of things and is thinking now I have to buy a mortar and pestle and grind fresh star anise. It's not happening. 

So I want to take a step back and say like with any habit change, whether it's adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, whether it's adding more plant diversity, 30 plants a week, baby steps are really where the magic lies.

So my biggest recommendation is to take the foods that you're already eating, that you already enjoy, that your kids already enjoy and start to challenge yourself to add at least one spice to that dish. 

So if we just take some examples, people might typically eat avocado toast, you mentioned sumac, you could add some chili peppers, if you like heat, you could add a little bit of cumin and coriander to your avocado.

[00:37:53] Jonathan Wolf: And when you said you just mean sprinkle it on top in all those cases. 

[00:37:56] Kanchan Koya: Exactly. So Start by just going to the store, buying a reputable brand of, say, ground cumin, ground coriander. Keep it away from heat and light and sprinkle it onto your avocado toast.  

[00:38:06] Jonathan Wolf: And cumin and coriander also have all of these high polyphenols and some of this evidence for helping our health that you've talked about with some of the others.

[00:38:16] Kanchan Koya: Yep. So the anti-inflammatory study that I mentioned, that looked at the addition of the spice blend to the burger, actually had cumin and coriander in that blend. And there are lots of in vitro studies looking at the impact of cumin and coriander on antioxidant status, on digestion, animal models. So yes, absolutely wonderful. There's also some studies looking at coriander and blood sugar control. 

So pretty much every spice will have some beneficial properties if you dig through the literature.  I think cumin and coriander are just easy because you can sprinkle them on. You don't have to grind them fresh. And chili peppers are a similar example.

[00:38:51] Dr. Sarah Berry: At the kind of doses that you're talking about us sprinkling on our, you know, our breakfast or our lunches, for example, will they be enough if we were to have a sprinkle every day to have a health benefit? 

[00:39:03] Kanchan Koya: Well, I think we can extrapolate from the study that looked at markers of inflammation being reduced blend and it was about a teaspoon of the blend.

So you can easily achieve a teaspoon of spices through the day if you sprinkle it onto like every meal. So I think it's very achievable to get to that one to two teaspoons a day, for some of those anti-inflammatory effects. 

[00:39:26] Jonathan Wolf: So you started with breakfast and you're saying, I think you talked about cumin, coriander, sumac is like really easy to sprinkle on.

[00:39:36] Dr. Sarah Berry: What about snacks? 

[00:39:37] Jonathan Wolf: Oh, I was going to go exactly the same place. Exactly. 

[00:39:40] Dr. Sarah Berry: So you know, snacks account for 25 percent of our energy intake in the U.K. and the U.S. So I think that is, it would be a great way if we could get some spices into our snacks. It would be fabulous. Any ideas?

[00:39:50] Kanchan Koya: Yeah. So I would suggest a yogurt-based snack, because we know yogurt is a fermented food, it's great for microbiome diversity, and inflammation. 

So, two options with yogurt. You could go in a sweet direction, where you take some Greek yogurt, you throw in a bunch of different berries for those wonderful polyphenols. You throw in some nuts, like walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and you sprinkle on some cinnamon, a little bit of grated nutmeg, and cardamom.  

And you almost have a pudding of sorts because it has all these luxurious flavor profiles from the spices. You get the benefit of potential blood sugar balance with the cinnamon and these additional polyphenols. Really easy way to spice up sort of a yoghurt snack. 

And then you could go in a more savory direction and prepare a yogurt dip for a plate of cut vegetables. So you can have your carrots, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, and your Greek yogurt with a little drizzle of olive oil. Some crushed garlic for that allicin, which is another great bioactive found in garlic. And to that I would again add salt, a little bit of sumac, chili, cumin, coriander, mix it up, and it's almost like a Middle Eastern type of dip for your cut veggies.

[00:41:06] Dr. Sarah Berry: Great. And any ideas for snacks on the go? 

[00:41:09] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, I actually love home popped popcorn. So just get some corn kernels, do this with your kids. It's super fun, a little bit of avocado or olive oil in a pot, throw the kernels in, let them pop. It's really fun to. hear them popping, the kids can get involved, and then just toss it with a spice blend that you love.

It can be garam masala, which is an Indian spice blend. It can be the baharat blend or a curry blend, you know, with a little bit of olive oil and salt. And now you have a spiced up polyphenol-rich popcorn snack. 

[00:41:41] Dr. Sarah Berry: Great idea. 

[00:41:41] Jonathan Wolf: That I have never tried. So it's like curried popcorn. 

[00:41:44] Dr. Sarah Berry: Exactly. I'm going to be trying that one. Like not just as a snack for me and the kids. But in the evening, if I'm a bit peckish when I'm having my polyphenol-packed glass of red wine, I'm going to like, boost it up. 

[00:41:57] Jonathan Wolf: Yeah, that's my after my time-restricted eating window that I'm now told I have to stop eating. You see, this is all pulling me in the wrong direction, Sarah. So I'm gonna resist the after-dinner eating. 

And what about because I feel like what about when you go to dinner, which is I think where I get intimidated because it starts to feel like you need to really understand what you're doing, cooking with spices. 

So imagine that you're looking for that same sort of gateway access into using spices, for meals at dinner. What would be your entry points that you might suggest? 

[00:42:32] Kanchan Koya: Again, it’s take the thing you're already making. So if you are making a bolognese, a traditional meat bolognese or a lentil bolognese, which would be packed with more fiber, you can add sweet or smoked paprika. 

You can actually add cinnamon to a bolognese for a lovely complexity of flavor. We tend to think of cinnamon as a sweetener. sweet dessert spice. 

[00:42:54] Jonathan Wolf: That's definitely how I think about it with sort of very much so. 

[00:42:57] Kanchan Koya: But traditional cultures, whether it's India and garam masala or the Middle East and baharat blend or this shawarma blend, or even in Vietnam, cinnamon is often used in savory dishes. Chinese five spice, which is used in savory cooking has cinnamon and star anise. So you can definitely add cinnamon to a savory dish. 

If you are grilling some salmon, You know, you can do some rosemary and garlic and smoked paprika on the salmon. If you're just oven-roasting some cauliflower, you could throw in a curry spice blend.

There has been an interesting study observational looking at curry spice blend in ingestion and cognitive readouts. So people seem to have better cognitive health in response to regular ingestion of the curry spice blend. 

So I think, you know, there's so many ways to take existing dishes that you already make, you already know how to do, and just add spices to that instead of sort of starting from scratch, which can be way more intimidating for people.

[00:43:57] Dr. Sarah Berry: So I'm feeling hugely inspired by everything you've just said. Even though I don't do most of the cooking at home, but I do cook for the children. So my husband cooks for me and him.

I don't cook with any spices for the children because partly I just don't know what to do with them. But also I know that my children are now of an age where they're not open to the introduction of new flavors.

Is there a way that I could introduce, do you think, some spices into the typical foods that they have without it being a total no-no from them? 

[00:44:29] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the biggest misconceptions that we have is that children need to eat bland food and nothing could be further from the truth. The more we expose them to flavor and complexity, the more their palates will be open and adventurous. going forward. 

Also you can really get your kids involved in the addition of spices. It's such a fun thing for a kid to take a spice jar and sprinkle it into a dish that you're cooking or even if you're baking. 

So say you're making banana bread. My favorite spice addition for kids is cardamom in banana bread. Cardamom has some digestion boosting properties. It smells like flowers. It smells like a luxurious dessert. It can actually help you reduce the addition of refined sugar in your meal. 

And so, you know, taking again, things that your kids love, whether it's banana bread or pancakes, adding cinnamon to pancakes, the simplest way to get your kids sort of excited. You can have them add the cinnamon. You can actually have them take the cinnamon bark and crush it in a tea towel. Super fun for a young kid to do that and let them experience that sensory kind of adventure of the whole bark going into smash bits and the aroma that comes from that. 

So yeah, I think again, going back to that same principle, what do your kids love? What simple spice can you add to that? 

Remember, most spices are not spicy. Most spices are aromatic, complex, and beautifully layered. And what keeps people afraid of spices is this misconception that they think all spices are hot and spicy. And why would you want to give kids hot and spicy things? So sure, let the chili peppers wait, but you can introduce them to all the other spices through their favorite dishes.

[00:46:12] Jonathan Wolf: What about drinks? You mentioned already, I think, some examples about how maybe when you've got a cold, you might try and use spicy drinks, but do you use spices in drinks otherwise, on a more regular basis? 

[00:46:23] Kanchan Koya: Yeah, so two drinks that I have every single day that are spiced up are my chai, which is my Indian spiced tea that has cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger.

I'll just kind of grind it in the mortar and pestle, throw it into some hot water, simmer it for five to ten minutes, add my tea leaves, my milk, I'm done. It's a ritual for me. It slows me down. I think sometimes we tend to think, gosh, that's so many steps. But maybe we need a few steps to slow down and create a ritual around food, which I think is really lovely.

Second is golden milk. Much fewer steps, much quicker. So growing up in India, we were given golden milk by our grandmas. It's called haldi doodh in India. 

[00:47:05] Jonathan Wolf: It's a beautiful name. What is golden milk? 

[00:47:07] Kanchan Koya: It's a turmeric milk. And let me tell you, most Indian kids hate it because the version that they're exposed to by their grandma is loaded with turmeric, which in high amounts can be quite earthy and bitter.

Not exactly palatable for a five-year-old. But you can create a more mellow golden milk. Take your favorite milk, I like soy milk, you can do almond milk on the stove. Throw in a little bit of turmeric. I like a pinch of black pepper and let's say a little bit of nutmeg and let it just simmer, sweeten it with a little date syrup or leave it unsweetened.

And that's a really nice kind of afternoon polyphenol-packed, warming, comforting beverage. 

[00:47:44] Jonathan Wolf: Nice. Amazing. I have to say I'm sitting here and there's this amazing smell, right, Sarah, which is just wafting over from where you have crushed the spices. And I'm thinking that, you know, we focus this show a lot on people who have no experience with spices, but I am feeling quite inspired at the end.

And so I imagine there's some people listening to this like, I totally know what I'm doing with spices. I actually know how to cook properly. So it's neither you nor me, Sarah. 

[00:48:07] Dr. Sarah Berry: I'm inspired.  

[00:48:10] Jonathan Wolf: And so what I'd love to say is imagine someone's listening to this and they're trying to impress.

What is your showstopper spice dish? And perhaps we can link to out to you for the recipe afterwards from the show notes. 

[00:48:22] Kanchan Koya: Oh, wow. That is a great question. And, gosh, there's too many to choose, but I'm going to pick an oven-roasted tandoori cauliflower. 

So it's a whole head of cauliflower that you steam really quick to sort of speed up the cooking time in the oven, and then you make a marinade with yogurt, ginger, garlic, tandoori spice blend, which has loads of spices, maybe 10 or 12 different spices, cumin, coriander, chili, nutmeg, cinnamon, huge blend, and a little bit of lime juice and salt. And then you cover it in that cauliflower and put it in the oven. And it comes out as this beautiful show-stopping, kind of perfect for a dinner party. And you serve it with some quick pickled onions, a little bit of Greek yogurt with cucumber, and impress your guests. 

And I think it brings up a really interesting point, which is we talked about starting low and slow and adding a spice to your favorite dish. But I really believe the magic lies in combining spices and adding more than one spice, as evidenced by the research.

It's when we combine the spices, we really start to get this kind of synergistic effect. Because if you think of inflammation in the body, it's really an orchestra of many different things going on. Spices seem to be intervening in this orchestra at different levels. And so you get turmeric doing one thing and cumin doing one thing and cinnamon doing one thing.

And so you really want that synergy and that blend. It is also more exciting from a cooking perspective. 

So. If I leave you with one other takeaway, it's yes, add spices to your everyday favorites, but maybe pick up one blend. It could be tandoori it could be a Middle Eastern blend. It could be a shawarma blend that's gonna give you more bang for your buck, more polyphenols, port teaspoon than if you were using a single spice.

[00:48:07] Dr. Sarah Berry: Well, I'm hoping Kanchan's going to invite us for lunch for that cauliflower. 

[00:50:18] Jonathan Wolf: I have to say, I'm hoping exactly the same thing.  

[00:48:07] Dr. Sarah Berry: I think you've got an hour break haven’t we?

[00:50:23] Kanchan Koya: The next episode needs to be a dinner party at my place. With all the spice delights.

I'd like to add one quick thing. We are entering maybe grilling season. We're getting into spring and summer, and there is some really good evidence that adding spices to grilled meats can actually reduce some of the harmful chemicals that are formed when the meat is grilled at high temperatures. 

So when you take a meat patty, for example, and put it on the barbecue, it can form something called a heterocyclic amine, which has been linked to some carcinogenic effects.

And if you add things like turmeric, black pepper, rosemary, it can actually reduce the formation of those harmful compounds. Also, add more flavor to your grilled meat patties. 

[00:51:03] Jonathan Wolf: Let me try and do a quick summary, which is tricky this time since I don't really understand how to use all the spices yet. So, Sarah you've got to help me out.

I think the key takeaway is add spices to your meal, partly just because the flavor is fantastic. And if you're sitting here right now, you can smell it and you're like, Oh, I'd like some of that. But also because there really is evidence that, as part of your overall diet, this can be really healthful.

That there are some clever ways you can do this, like blends where you suddenly get a whole set of spices at once. 

That the heart of why these spices work is because they have all of these polyphenols and they're sort of packed full of these chemicals that were designed to protect them as a plant, but interestingly, when we eat them, can actually have these health effects on us.

That one of the ways in which that happens seems to be that they're sort of unwrapped by the microbiome, the bacteria inside our gut that then makes this available. And we don't understand all the details of how it works, but I think there was this really interesting analogy that in a way, partly it's stressing our, our body and then our body is reacting and putting all these repair mechanisms in. 

And there are a small number of studies, but there's another one since we last talked showing that, when they do randomized control trials, you can actually see improvements in the latest one. You gave this example is that there was a reduction in sort of overall glucose levels with cinnamon, like really small levels. I think you said for four grams a day. 

Then we really got on to, okay, how do you actually use them? So first thing was in general, you need to crush your spice. If it starts as a whole spice, which is not as scary as I had thought it was, was it Sarah? So you smashed it a few times, seemed to work pretty well. 

Interestingly, quite a few spices need to be cooked in order to unlock their benefits. So there are some that you're saying just straight from cold works, but interestingly, and I think opposite of what we are, Sarah, you're often talking about in nutrition, some of these spices actually almost get turned on through the heating. I think turmeric was one of your, your examples. 

You talked a bit about how long they last. So you're saying actually if it's a whole spice, it lasts a long time, even a couple of years might still be fine. Once it's crushed, you're saying, you know, three to six months, but smell it. So if it still smells good, then it's probably still. doing something. 

And then we talked about, okay, how do you actually apply it? And I think your key message is don't try and suddenly switch to being this cook who knows how to use 20 spices across all your meals. Take your existing meal and make some changes. I thought you had some great examples. 

I described avocado in the morning and you're saying, you know, You could try cumin and coriander. That's going to work really great. So I'm definitely going to go and try that.

You talked about this delicious snack with yogurt where you added cinnamon and nutmeg and cardamom, but also this idea of the curried popcorn, which Sarah is going to make and bring into the office, it sounds like next week. So I'm looking forward to that. I don't believe that's gonna happen at all, but I like the idea.

[00:54:11] Dr. Sarah Berry: You have challenged me now, that is definitely happening. I'm going to be sending you a picture Kanchan. I'm gonna feature it on the ZOE Instagram now. 

[00:54:17] Jonathan Wolf: I wanna see that.

And then for dinner, you said again, you can just take your regular sort of meal. So let's say you're making a bolognese or a vegetable bolognese, you could add in cinnamon. I think with salmon, you were talking about sort of rosemary and garlic, lots of other things there. 

And then you say actually for drinks, you can also actually put spice into your drinks. You described, for example, this golden milk with turmeric and black pepper and nutmeg. 

And then finally you described this amazing dinner party piece. And we will have the link in the show notes and we'll find a way to link out to you. Hopefully actually showing us making it as well. I hope because that sounds amazing.

And we want to do the next show in your house and we're going to eat it. Is that right? If that's the conclusion.

[00:55:04] Dr. Sarah Berry: I think we'll do a whole day. We'll have breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner.  

[00:55:08] Jonathan Wolf: Let's do it. Can we come and hang out at your house for the day? 

[00:55:11] Kanchan Koya: 300%.

[00:55:11] Dr. Sarah Berry:  I think something else as well, Jonathan, as part of the wrap up is the use of mixed spices and actually the value of that, cause you talked about all of these individual ones and a really good starting point maybe for someone like me, who it is quite new for is to go and start by just getting a mixed one and starting playing around with that. 

[00:55:32] Kanchan Koya: Your curry popcorn. There you go. 

[00:55:34] Dr. Sarah Berry: Sorted. 

[00:55:35] Jonathan Wolf: Brilliant. Kanchan, thank you so much for coming in, giving us this visual feast as well as this amazing feast from my nose. 

[00:55:43] Kanchan Koya: Thank you so much for having me and for summarizing so beautifully what we discussed.

[00:55:34] Dr. Sarah Berry: Thank you very much. We're looking forward to your dinner. 

[00:55:50] Jonathan Wolf: We're looking forward to it. See you then. 

[00:55:51] Kanchan Koya: See ya. 

[00:55:54] Jonathan Wolf: I hope you learned something today and enjoyed the episode. If you listen to the show regularly, you probably already believe that you can transform your health by changing what you eat. But, now, there's only so much you can learn from general advice on a weekly podcast.

If you want to feel much better and live many more healthy years, you need something more. And that's why, each day, more than 100, 000 members trust ZOE to help them make the smartest food choices so they can feel better now and enjoy many more healthy years. Combining our world-leading science with your ZOE test results, ZOE is your guide and coach to sustainable improvements to your health.

So how does it work? ZOE membership starts with at-home testing to understand your unique body. Then, ZOE's app is your health coach, using weekly check-ins and daily guidance to help you shift your food choices. So, it's to steadily improve your health. I rely on ZOE's advice every day, and truly, it has transformed how I feel.

So, to take the first step towards the possibility of more energy, less hunger, and more healthy years, take our quiz and get a free program to help identify changes to your food choices you can make right now. Simply go to zoe.com/podcast, where, as a podcast listener, you can also get 10% off.

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