Ah spicy foods… Some people love them and some people hate them. If you’ve acquired a taste for spicy foods you can now enjoy them knowing they have some powerful health benefits.
What are the Health Benefits of Spicy Food?
There are many newly discovered benefits that spicy food can provide. Some of those include:
- Fat Loss – Capsaicin, the compound found in spicy food that gives spicy food its kick has been linked to boosting the metabolism and being an effective appetite suppressant. According to The New York Times, eating spicy foods can increase the metabolism by up to 8% for a short while after eating spicy food. In another study posted in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants who ate spicy red peppers with their appetizer before lunch consumed fewer calories during their meal and before dinner.
- Reduce Cholesterol – Capsaicin is responsible for assisting in lowering bad cholesterol. According to a study done by the American Chemical Society, capsaicin assisted in getting rid of cholesterol by increasing the rate in which the body breaks it down. They also found that it blocks a gene that has been found to narrow the arteries, thereby increase blood flow within the arteries.
- Cancer Prevention – Certain spicy foods act as a cancer preventative. Turmeric, an Indian spice contains an antioxidant called curcumin which has shown some anti-cancer properties in laboratory tests. Capsaicin has been shown to slow growth of prostate cancer cells according to the American Cancer Society, however not enough tests have been done yet to fully verify that the same effect can happen in humans.
- Relieve Stress – Feeling stressed out? Eating spicy foods has been shown to boost your brain’s production of ‘feel-good’ hormones such as seratonin that can help ease depression and stress.
- Break Down Fat – We’ve all been guilty of loading up on a high fatty meal on occasion. Lucky for you, the next time you down a tasty meal that’s high in fat content you might be able to reduce the damage it will do to your fitness goals. A Pennsylvania State University study found that participants that ate a meal high in fat that was seasoned with some spicy herbs and cinnamon had lowered their triglyceride response by 31% and their insulin response by 21%. Triglycerides are associated with both diabetes and heart disease (the lower the better). Insulin is known to store unused glucose as fat.
Spicy Ingredients Don’t Make Miracles Happen
Keep in mind that adding spicy ingredients to a dish won’t magically make junk food healthy. While I wish as much as you do that all I have to do is add crushed red pepper to my slice of pizza to make it healthy, or habanero sauce to my burger to shed some pounds, it just isn’t going to happen.
Spicy ingredients make healthy dishes even healthier which is why I recommend adding some spice to some of your meals.
One quick way I add a little spice to my meals is to add a little bit of crushed red pepper or sriracha sauce to my marinated chicken breast and cook it in the skillet. It gives a bland slice of chicken a little extra zing which is much needed to bring out some flavor without packing on the calories.
What is your favorite way to add a little spice to your meals?