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Spicy Foods: The health effects of adding some heat to your meal

Hot and spicy foods get a bad rap. For years, experts believed it caused ulcers as well as other stomach problems. Studies now suggest that spicy food may actually help boost metabolism, prevent gastric damage and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Recently, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences looked at the diets of nearly half a million men and women over seven years, and found that people who ate spicy foods almost every day had a 14% lower risk of death, compared to people who added heat to their meal less than once a week.

Here are some other benefits of adding a bit of spice to your life.

Lose Weight

Spicy foods increase satiety, helping you to feel full while eating less, and hot peppers may even help your body to burn more calories. Studies have shown capsaicin may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering blood fat levels, as well as fight fat buildup by triggering beneficial protein changes in your body.

Relieve Pain

Capsaicin is not only a potent anti-inflammatory, which is useful for many types of pain, but also it provides pain relief by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain. It also works by de-sensitizing sensory receptors in your skin. This is why it’s often used in topical pain-relieving creams and patches. It’s actually the very intense burning sensation that, ironically, ultimately relieves pain.

Reduces Anger

Spicy foods boost the production of serotonin (feel-good hormones). They thus help ease depression and stress.

Improved Heart Function

Chillies are known to reduce cardiovascular risk. They lower incidences of heart attack and stroke as hot chillies lessen damaging effects of LDL (bad cholesterol). Capsaicin is also said to help fight inflammation, which is a major factor in heart problems.

Reduce inflammation

Spicy foods can reduce inflammation in the body due to their high phenolic content. They can act as anti-inflammatory agents, thus reducing the risk of swelling, physical discomfort, and disease.

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