We often have a love/hate relationship with food, but the truth is that food can be made to work FOR you and not against you. And healthy, good food doesn’t have to mean plain chicken breast or a boring salad, either. Today we’re going to focus on spice! Yes, the good news is your spicy Tuesday taco and your favorite dish at the local Indian restaurant can increase your lifespan! Don’t hold the spice, because there are actually many health benefits to spicy food!
Speeds up metabolism
Trying to lose weight or watch your figure? Research has shown that spicy foods can boost your metabolism. We have something called a resting metabolic rate, or, simply put, how many calories we burn when at rest. If you stayed lying down all day, you’d still burn this base amount of calories. Spicy foods can raise the amount of calories you burn just going about your day. Not bad! And it’s not only hot, spicy foods; several “non-spicy” spices have been shown to boost metabolism as well, including cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin. Dishes from cuisines that have spice often use many spices together, further upping the benefits.
Have you ever used a heating patch over a sore muscle or put some warming cream on it? Some of these heating pad and pain relief cream brands use capsaicin to provide the feeling of heat and to help with inflammation. Hot peppers naturally contain capsaicin, which is actually the part that makes the pepper spicy. The more spicy the food, the more capsaicin you’re getting!
Black pepper does not contain capsaicin, but it can help with inflammation as well. Its star ingredient is called piperine. Studies have shown it to be effective in the early acute inflammatory process.
Do you eat spicy dishes on the regular? Well you’ll love this benefit, then, because eating at least one meal with spicy food daily (or even just six days a week) was shown in a study to lower mortality by 14% compared with those who ate spicy food less than once a week.
Perhaps the most studied benefit of spicy foods is their anti-cancer properties. In some studies they were shown to help stop the spread of cancer cells, while other studies indicated they cause the death of cancer cells. Again, the beneficial component is capsaicin, which has been shown to be effective against several types of cancer such as breast cancer, lymphoma, and prostate cancer.
Many of these benefits are shared by other non-spicy spices! Turmeric, for example, is anti-inflammatory. And cinnamon can help boost metabolism. Remember, food can work for us. So many yummy, delicious foods have health benefits. Even humble little spices, with as little as a half teaspoon serving, carry benefits! So flavor your food with spice. Even a little bit of a kick can go a long way toward good health!