I love spicy foods… hot peppers, horseradish, and wasabi, among other spicy food sources. Generally, the hotter, the better. And, like others who enjoy spicy foods, my enjoyment of these foods doesn’t necessarily relate to their actual health benefits. But eating spicy foods provides advantages, intentional or not. Increasing spicy food consumption can improve your health.
There are several health benefits associated with spicy foods. Here are some of the most-studied:
Healthy weight management. Eating spicy foods can crank up your metabolism. Studies show that the main compound in hot peppers, capsaicin, has a thermogenic effect and may cause the body to burn more calories well after you’re done eating.
Healthy heart. Studies show that people who eat the most spicy food have much lower incidence of heart attack and stroke. It may be because chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of LDL (bad cholesterol) and capsaicin may fight inflammation, which has been recognized as a risk factor for heart issues.
Cancer cell killer. Capsaicin has the ability to kill some cancer and leukemic cells, and one particular spice, turmeric, found in curry powder and some mustards, may slow the spread of cancer and growth of tumors. And when you pair it with black pepper, your body absorbs 2,000 percent more turmeric.
Lower blood pressure. The heat of the pepper increases blood flow throughout your body, contributing to a stronger cardiovascular system.
Reduce stress. Spicy foods boost production of serotonin, one of the body’s “feel-good” hormones, so they may help improve mood and ease depression and stress.
Better breathing. Eating spicy foods promotes sweating and opens the sinuses. The “heat” of spicy foods can also promote the opening of the bronchial tubes.
Brain health. People who eat a lot of spicy foods seem to be at a decreased risk of developing degenerative brain and nervous system conditions. There is also evidence that eating spicy foods may improve cognition, given its positive impact on metabolism.
Sleep better. Believe it or not, people who eat spicy foods regularly have a faster and easier time falling asleep and staying asleep.
Not a fan of the crazy-hot stuff? You can still get the health benefits by adding spices that you find more tolerable, such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!