Researchers from the Miguel Hernandez University conducted a study a few years back finding that cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are the “best” natural antioxidant. Examining five antioxidant properties, the researchers found that cloves demonstrated the greatest value.
Cloves are most commonly used in middle Eastern cooking, but they can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. Their antioxidant activity is credited with slowing down the decomposition of foods, making it a natural preservative.
It’s this preserving action that led to the study from researchers at the Miguel Hernandez University – a study which looked at the antioxidant activity of five different herbs and spices common in Mediterranean cooking. Oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and clove essential oils were all tested.
Of all five, cloves had the highest concentration of phenols and inhibited the DPPH radical at the highest rate. In other words, it outperformed the other herbs and spices.
“Out of the five antioxidant properties tested, cloves had the highest capacity to give off hydrogen, reduced lipid peroxidation well, and was the best iron reducer,” said Juana Fernandez-Lopez, co-author of the study. “The results show that use of the natural oxidants occurring in spices used in the Mediterranean diet, or their extracts, is a viable option for the food industry, as long as the organoleptic characteristics of the food product are not affected.”
One of the goals of the study was to encourage food makers to use natural antioxidants. Typically, food manufacturers use synthetic antioxidants to slow spoilage through lipid (fat) oxidation (damage by free radicals). Questions of the dangers of these synthetic antioxidants would hopefully be enough motivation for food makers to look elsewhere, but we know how well that goes—if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.
Related Read: Oregano Benefits: Growing Your Own Medicine
Cloves aren’t only good for antioxidants, however. They have been used for centuries in natural healing. It has anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and anti-fungal properties. It is good for skin disorders and is commonly prescribed for gum and teeth problems. It increases circulation and is an anti-inflammatory. It boosts the immune system and may even be helpful in combating premature ejaculation. Finally, it’s a good treatment for indigestion.