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Impact of Cooking and Digestion, In Vitro, on the Antioxidant Capacity and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg


The impact of cooking and digestion on the antioxidant capacity (AC), estimated total phenolic content (TPC) and anti-inflammatory activity (AA) of culinary spices was determined to investigate their significance as dietary contributors to these properties. Extracts of uncooked (U), cooked (C) and cooked and digested, in vitro, (D) cinnamon, clove and nutmeg were prepared and the TPC, AC and AA, specifically the inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2) and the amount of prostaglandin (PG) synthesized, were determined. Compared to their uncooked (U) counterparts, the following changes were statistically significant: the AC and TPC for (C) clove, and the TPC for (D) clove decreased, the TPC for (D) clove increased, the TPC for (C) nutmeg increased, and the AC and TPC for (D) nutmeg increased, and the TPC for (C) and (D) nutmeg increased. All the spices achieved near 100 % inhibition of COX-2 which was associated with the inhibition of the amount of PG synthesized. Based on estimated levels of ingestion, cinnamon possesses a much higher AC than clove and nutmeg because it is typically used in larger quantities. For AA, (U, C and D) cinnamon and clove maintain near 100 % inhibition of COX-2 but only the inhibitory potential of (D) nutmeg could be ascertained (70 %). Cooking and digestion alter the TPC and AC of these spices although the changes are not consistent between spices or across treatments. In contrast to AC, significant AA is likely to be present in these spices at amounts used in cooking.

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Anti-inflammatory activity






Cooked and digested in vitro




Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity


Estimated total phenolic content




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This study was funded by the Organix Foundation:

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth I. Opara.

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Baker, I., Chohan, M. & Opara, E.I. Impact of Cooking and Digestion, In Vitro, on the Antioxidant Capacity and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Cinnamon, Clove and Nutmeg. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 68, 364–369 (2013).

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  • Culinary spices
  • Antioxidant capacity
  • Polyphenols
  • Anti-inflammatory activity