Spice Up Your Product: Rise of spices as functional ingredients

Spices as functional ingredients

Years ago, formulators were heading for steep mountainsides and dense rainforests looking for all kinds of exotic berries. Now it seems the search for functional ingredients is heading to the spice markets. Cinnamon, ginger, oregano, red pepper, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, sage… all are household names, and most consumers have had these items in their kitchen cupboards for decades. Still, consuming spices in the amounts needed to make a health impact is not easy. Red peppers can burn and generate stomach upset and it’ll take more than a bowl of curry to leverage turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory properties. More and more, consumers who need an easier way to incorporate the health benefits of spices into their daily intake are looking to supplements and functional foods.

Spices support numerous health conditions

Spices support numerous conditions. Turmeric is widely recognized as an anti-inflammatory agent, making it a top choice for joint health formulations. Red peppers jumpstart metabolic activity and aid in weight loss. Ginger has a calming effect on the stomach and is a favorite in digestive health products. Cinnamon helps manage blood sugar and rosemary boosts liver function. In short, spices make a valuable addition in nearly every condition-specific category.

Consumers are becoming more educated on spices as a health-promoting ingredient

The shift in consumer education is easily noted in magazines such as Natural Health and Whole living. Whereas spices used to be relegated to the realm of dinner recipes, entire articles on the health benefits of various spices now make a regular appearance. Google searches for “spices” now number nearly 700,000 a month, and well over a million search results are displayed for “health benefits of spices.”

Look for more spicy supplements

Since supplement manufacturers have found ways to deliver potent spice extracts in a bioavailable, digestible fashion, consumers have been more than willing to add more supplements to their shopping carts. The names of spices are easily recognized by consumers and are helping to shift consumer perceptions of supplements to purified extracts of whole foods. With more educated consumers and continuing innovation in this field, you can bet spices will serve an even larger role in the future of dietary supplements and functional foods.

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