Spices, Unpacked Diet, Bio Actives and Immunity: Indian Health & Pandemic

  • Utkarsh Ghate
  • Hema Kulkarni
Keywords: COVID-19, Ayurveda, Indo-Mediterranean diet, superfoods, antibiotics


Spices and vegetable rich, home cooked diet prevails in Asia, especially in India which is rich in polyphenols. This could have led to higher immunity and health, which is evident from the 3-4 time lower prevalence (< 10% population) and mortality (0.1% population) than the western countries. Mainly processed foods (packed and in hotels, with preservatives or additives therein, besides refined flours and vegetable oil/ trans fats) prevalent in developed countries can damage immunity. Consequent advanced glycation end products (AGEs) prevalence is a health risk. Polyphenols, saponins, salicylates and greater traditional, herbal medicines in the Asian diet, besides lesser vaccination/ flu shots/ antibiotics use may protect immunity, unlike in EU/ USA. Quercetin, piperine and isothiocynate (an organosulfur compound) in red onion, black pepper and mustard seed oil respectively may be the key health ingredients and anti-microbial/ anti-viral agents. Herbal tea from Terminalia arjuna L. tree bark is identified as potential COVID-19 cure alone or as adjuvant, as triterpenes in it build immunity. The Indo-Mediterranean diet with less refined flours, red meat and liquor, tobacco than the western countries may be healthy like the Oriental (Japanese) diet. Consumption extent of spices, especially mustard, is reported by others to be negatively correlated with corona incidence across 163 countries, as we too show here. We explain the preventive effect of 3 superfoods on COVID-19: red onion, black pepper & mustard.

Europe and USA population miss the benefit of antioxidant quercetin content of the pungent red onion, as mild varieties are preferred, viz., white/yellow onion/shallot. Black pepper is healthier that chilly but the latter is commonly cooked by ignorance. Mustard oil that is common in India has high COVID-19 deterrence due to glucosinolates i.e. sulfur compounds. However, canola and rapeseed prevalent in EU & USA are bred for lower glucosinolate content to avoid pungency, but with no health benefits.


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How to Cite
Ghate, U., & Kulkarni, H. (2023). Spices, Unpacked Diet, Bio Actives and Immunity: Indian Health & Pandemic. European Journal of Science, Innovation and Technology, 3(3), 422-440. Retrieved from https://ejsit-journal.com/index.php/ejsit/article/view/231