Indian Spices pp 277-316 | Cite as

Spices: Secondary Metabolites and Medicinal Properties

  • T. John Zachariah
  • N. K. Leela


Spices and aromatic herbs have been used since antiquity as preservatives, colorants, and flavor enhancers. Secondary metabolites(SM) are compounds that are not necessary for a cell (organism) to live, but play a role in the interaction of the cell (organism) with its environment. These compounds are often involved in plants protection against biotic or abiotic stresses. Secondary metabolites are mainly responsible for plant defense and have no direct involvement in the growth and development of such plants. Terpenes, alkaloids and phenolics are three main classes of secondary metabolites in plants. Black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg are spices of great commercial importance as it provides flavor and taste to the culinary preparations were it is added. Secondary metabolites of these spices are of great significance in the present era of nutraceuticals as these spices possess antioxidant, anticancerous, numerous other medicinal properties. Detailed information on these spices is very interesting.


Spices Volatiles Antioxidant Terpenes Phenolics Phytosterols 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. John Zachariah
    • 1
  • N. K. Leela
    • 1
  1. 1.ICAR-Indian Institute of Spices ResearchKozhikodeIndia

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