Spicy Foods: 5 Great Health Benefits

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Spicy Foods: 5 Great Health Benefits

Many Americans enjoy spicy foods. If you’re one of those people who love a bit of heat with just about any meal, you’re in luck.  Spicy foods contain potent plant compounds called capsaicin, which have been found to prevent chronic diseases and are also what give peppers their heat.

This, coupled with their high concentrations of vitamins and antioxidants makes spicy peppers a unique superfood – if you can stand their heat. The main health benefits of spicy foods are as follows:

Weight Loss

Spicy foods increase satiety. This helps you to feel full while eating less. Hot peppers may even help your body to burn more calories. The compound that gives hot chilies its hotness is capsaicin. Research suggests eating spicy food can boost your metabolism by up to 8 percent.

When you eat hot peppers, it increases your body heat, which boosts metabolism. Hence, adding spice to your food can speed up weight loss.

Cancer Prevention

Research has found that cancer is affected by capsaicin in hot peppers. Capsaicin has been shown to activate cell receptors in your intestinal lining, creating a reaction that lowers the risk of tumors.

Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, so any foods that support heart health are worthy of more than a passing glance. Spicy foods, particularly chili peppers, certainly fit this bill. Both tumeric and red peppers have definite effects on the body’s circulation.  Capsaicin (hot peppers) causes blood vessels to dilate, which can lead to blood pressure lowering.

Capsaicin also may help prevent blood clots. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, can help to reverse damage to blood vessels, and may help lower cholesterol and prevent bad cholesterol from building up.

Nutritional Value

The addition of fresh chilies to your meals can help you reach your daily recommended intake for vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, green and red peppers have a variety of essential minerals and high levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C can reduce the duration of the common cold and may help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Pain Relief

If you’ve got pain from arthritis, shingles, or even some kinds of headaches, doctors often use an over-the-counter cream with capsaicin as the active ingredient. Topical treatment with 0.025 percent capsaicin cream has also been found to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Still not sold on spicy foods? You can still get some of the health benefits by adding milder spices to your dishes. Some examples: adding sliced ginger in a cup of tea, shrimp coated in cumin and coriander then sauteed in a skillet, or adding red pepper flakes to stir-fry.

What’s your opinion about spicy foods? Any tips for putting spice into your favorite dishes?

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