Turns out, not only do spicy foods tingle your taste buds, but it may actually be good for your health! In a recent sudy by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, spicy food has been linked to a longer life. This study followed the diets of nearly half a million men and women over a period of 7 years and the research indicated that those who ate spicy foods almost every day had a 14% lower risk of death (specifically from cancer, heart and respiratory diseases) compared to those who added it to their diet less than once a week! Amazing! But there are a host of other great reasons to spice things up in the kitchen…
According to a study in the New York Times, consuming a spicy plate of food increases your body’s calorie burn rate by up to 8%. So next time your food gives you the sweats, you’ll know why! Studies have also suggested that people who choose a spicy starter consume fewer calories from their main course. Spicy foods may also help curb cravings for salty, fatty and sweet foods.
Do you find your nose starts to run after you eat spicy food? The capsaicin in peppers is actually similar toa compound found in decongestants, so the hotter the pepper, the greater the decongestant effect. So next time you feel bunged up with a cold, just add a pinch of cayenne pepper to your cuppa. Breath it in (if your nasal passages open wide enough!) and get sipping. The pepper will help stimulate the mucus membranes that line your nasal passages so you can breathe more easily. Peppers have an additional benefit for your nasal passages…as a rich source of Vitamin A, if helps form a strong mucus membrane which acts as a preventative barrier to germs.
Protects your Heart
Studies show that people with spicier diets tend to have far fewer heart attacks than those who consume more mild foods. This is because chili peppers negate the effects of bad cholesterol (or LDL). Additionally, capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the burning effect that spicy foods create in your mouth) fights inflammation, which is one of the factors that contribute to heart attacks.
It might stave off cancer
Now you’re starting to love capsaicin and it’s about to get even better! According to the latest research, this wonderful chemical has the same effect on certain cancer cells as powerful cancer-fighting drugs do. Apparently, the chemical is so powerful that it can potentially kill off leukemic cells and slow the growth of deadly tumors!
Settles your Stomach
Spicy foods can event lower the amount of gastric acid you produce, reduce any stomach bleeding you might have, and cut your risk of acquiring a peptic ulcer by 53%!
I’m not going to bore you with the science here, but simply put, capsaicin (that wonder chemical again!) inhibits certain signals sent from your nerve cells to your brain, deadening any sensation of pain you might be feeling. For this reason, capsaicin is often used as an ingredient in pain-relief creams and patches – the burning sensation works to eliminate pain at its source.
Consuming a little heat on a hot day may actually help you feel cooler by making you sweat a bit. If your sweat can evaporate (as long as it isn’t too humid), you’ll cool down. For some, eating spicy food on a summers day may not be that appealing, but peppers work well in a number of chilled dishes too.Try adding it to gazpacho, guacamole, coleslaw, salsa, hummus, chilled bean dishes, kimchi, and salads.
Eating spicy foods stimulates your body to produce the hormone serotonin which you might know as the “happy” hormone. This hormone will help you feel better equipped to deal with depression, anxiety, anger, and stress.
Not a lover of Spicy Food? You can learn to love it…!
If you don’t love spicy food but understand the multiple health benefits and would like to incorporate spice into your diet, then give it another go. Honestly, you can learn to love it! Slowly build up the heat so your tolerance for spice can increase. Experiment to see exactly how much you can tolerate and add some pepper to your favourite dishes for a little kick. Or try some of our spicy snacks like Bananas on Fire, Chilli & Lemon Pistachios, and New Orleans Heat, which are tolerable even for people who are more sensitive to the heat.