Though many people love spicy food purely for its flavour, studies have proven that spices confer a range of health benefits too. Traditional ingredients in spicy food such as chilli and horseradish, may help treat ailments such as the common cold, while others contain important cancer-fighting antioxidants that can help slow the growth of cancer cells.
We have round up the top five benefits of eating spicy food.
While overall diet and exercise remain important factors in any weight loss program, adding spice to your recipes can help the process. Studies show that the main compound in chillies, called capsaicin, has a thermogenic effect and may cause the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after being consumed. Meanwhile a Canadian study found that spicy dishes have more of a chance of leaving you satisfied, making you less inclined to overeat.
Some spicy ingredients have the potential to prevent or limit the growth of cancer cells. Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in studies. Meanwhile the American Cancer Society suggests that capsaicin in chilli may help slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Spicy foods such as chillies and turmeric have a range of potential benefits for keeping our hearts healthy. Michael Miller, MD, is a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Maryland. He says that the benefits of spicy foods are that they impact on the body’s circulation. ““With respect to capsaicin (hot peppers), it can affect blood vessels and causes them to dilate, which can lead, to some degree, to blood pressure lowering,” he says. Meanwhile the anti-inflammatory elements of turmeric can help to reverse damage to blood vessels and help lower cholesterol.
Increase Nutritional Value
The addition of spicy ingredients such as fresh chillies can help you reach your daily intake for vitamins and minerals. Green and red chillies have a variety of essential minerals and are high in vitamin C. Meanwhile, adding a level of spice to your otherwise standard vegetables can also encourage you to up your intake.
Improve your Mood
When we eat enough spice, our bodies start to produce endorphins to block the pain of the heat. Meanwhile the curcumin in turmeric demonstrates neuroprotective properties in the brain which can enhance mood and possibly help against mental health conditions such as depression.