Every aspect in this Universe is made up of chemical compounds. All the organisms starting from pre-cellular to a completely developed living organism, everything at a deeper level are nothing but the chemicals reacted/ combined to form a body. That means essentially, what we are? And what we eat? are nothing but chemicals that helps in maintaining the physical, physiological, mental and emotional well being ; And those chemicals include nutrients such as Carbs, fats, proteins etc., & bioactive compounds like alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, carotenoids etc.,.
Spices are known for being: Aromatic
They are used in day-to-day life as coffee, tea, masalas, essential oils, in cosmetics etc.,. Even though India is a major exporter of spices we depend on some middle eastern countries for spices like saffron.
Our perception on food is mainly its physical appearance and taste, So for cooking we use only economic parts of spice plants but the bioactive compounds present in economic parts are also available in other wasted parts of plant that can be extracted and used.
1.Saffron (Crocus sativus)- It has bioactive compounds like CROCIN, CROCETIN, SAFFRANAL, CAROTENE which are responsible for its color, taste, aroma & medicinal properties. And the economic part is only stigma but the bioactive compounds are seen in other floral parts such as petals and sepals which makes up 70-75% of flower that are completely gone wasted.
2. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) -The economic part is rhizome that contains a yellow colored polyphenolic pigment called CURCUMIN.
Turmeric is used for cooking, colouring and medicinal purposes. The wasted part in turmeric plant is leaves which contains CURCUMIN at high levels is left unused.
3. Cloves (Syzigium aromaticum) – This plant consists of EUGENOL as a bioactive compounds that imparts taste, aroma & flavor to cloves. The economic part is dried flower bud but the presence of EUGENOL is equally similar in stem and leaves which are left and wasted.
As explained above we waste more than what we actually use.And to fix this we need research to be done on spice plants to understand the bioactive compounds, their presence in different parts of the plant & extraction methods. If we can cross these barriers it will be a big boost for food, pharmacological & cosmetic industries which can use the spices at its best.