LIFESTYLE
17/07/2013 08:24 BST | Updated 17/07/2013 08:25 BST

How Herbs And Spices Can Help You With Weight Loss

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Reduced fat meals are notorious for tasting less appealing than their full fat counterparts, but new research has revealed a way to make them more appetising for weight loss.

Beseech your tastebuds by adding herbs and spices to reduced fat options, and your brain will score them with as high a taste rating as it would do a regular fat meal.

John Peters, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and chief of strategy and innovation at the school's Anschutz Health and Wellness Center was in charge of a team that tested 150 people with full fat meals (around the 650 calorie mark) and reduced fat meals (around the 395 calorie mark).

The reduced fat meals were infused with spices such as paprika, oregano and garlic. The group were them given randomised meals (so that no one knew what they were eating) and were then asked to judge them on the Likert scale.

Likert scales are based on psychological responses, and usually feature questions such as 'strongly agree' and 'disagree'.

Researchers found that the full fat meal and the reduced-fat meal scored the same (an average of 7), while the reduced fat meal with no spices scored a lower mark. The key finding from this was that adding herbs and spices made all the difference.

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Although full-fat creamy pasta did better than the reduced fat version, spiced up vegetables with lower fat did much better than the full-fat - which is a double score as vegetables count towards your five a day.

However, being mindful about food is still important, as new figures revealed that Brits who buy reduced fat products often consumer 50% more of it than if it had been full fat. On Weightlossresources.co.uk, it says: "Many of us believe that because a food is described as healthy it must, by default, contain fewer calories. Low saturated fat oils for instance make us believe that we can use more."

"Substituting herbs and spices for fat may be a promising strategy for helping people meet the Dietary Guidelines, especially if it's simple stuff you can buy in the store that doesn't require any exotic training," said Peters, whose research was funded in part by the McCormick Science Institute.

Herbs and spices also have incredibly good benefits for the immune system and the heart. Many are packed with B-vitamins and minerals. Cayenne pepper, for instance, can help fight prostate cancer and ginger helps with arthritis.

Here's a brilliant way to re-purpose old spices from HuffPost US: