No two people are exactly alike in their taste for culinary delights. Some like their dishes hot and spicy while others prefer bland cuisine. If spicy foods are more to your liking, you’ll be glad to hear that dishes spiced up with chili peppers are good for your health. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, the ingredient responsible for the hot taste in spicy foods. Adding capsaicin to your diet can boost your health in numerous ways.
Here are just a few of the health benefits you stand to gain by eating spicy foods.
Obesity is a common problem in the United States which can put you at risk of numerous health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Capsaicin can help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism so that your body burns calories faster. Adding chili peppers to your meals also reduces your appetite so you consume less food, which helps keep your weight in check.
#1 Improved Mood
Capsaicin boosts your body’s production of serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone that helps ease feelings of stress, anger and depression. By keeping these emotions in check, spicy foods help improve your mood.
#2 Prevention of Cancer and Heart Disease
Regular consumption of spicy foods with capsaicin can help protect you against cancer and heart disease. When capsaicin enters the body, it acts like an antioxidant in protecting your cells from free radical molecules that can cause cancer. Capsaicin helps fight inflammation and improves blood flow to help manage blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
#3 Fewer Stomach Ailments
Contrary to what many people think, spicy foods can actually help reduce stomach ailments by controlling bad cholesterol and decreasing the production of gastric acids that can damage your stomach lining. Inside the digestive tract, capsaicin produces the chemical anandamide, used to combat inflammation caused by the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. Capsaicin can also reduce your risk of intestinal tumors, a plus for people with a history of this condition.
#4 Reduced Pain
When added to topical creams, capsaicin works as a painkiller which can be used to alleviate pain from arthritis and neuropathy.
#5 Increased Lifespan
Chili peppers contain bioactive ingredients that reduce your risk of cancer, digestive disorders and heart disease which may extend your lifespan. In fact, research shows that people who regularly consume spicy foods may actually live longer than people who avoid spicy cuisine.
#6 Tips for Becoming A Spicy Food Eater
If you’re new to spicy cuisine, you may want to start slow in introducing chili peppers to your diet to give your body time to adjust to the heat. You can mix small amounts of chopped peppers or chili flakes into foods you normally eat to give your palate and stomach a chance to become accustomed to these spices. You can also serve chili sauces or diced chili peppers on the side and add them to your dishes as you see fit.
Start with adding mild peppers to your dishes and gradually move up the ladder to spicier chili peppers as you grow accustomed to the heat. Take small bites and eat slowly to give your body a chance to absorb the spiciness in the food. Take care to not overdo. Listen to your body when it tells you it has reached its limits to the spice in your food. If you force yourself to eat more than you should, your body may not be so receptive the next time you dine on spicy cuisine.
Try different dishes and experiment with different types of spices to get the full spectrum of spicy cuisine. The more you consume spicy food, the quicker you’ll build a tolerance to the heat. In time, you’ll learn to relish the flavor of spicy cuisine and make it a part of your lifestyle. In doing so, you’ll start to reap many of the health benefits associated with the consumption of spicy foods.
To Eat or Not To Eat – Spicy Foods FAQs
Spicy foods generally contain chili peppers which contain a chemical called capsaicin that gives off the heat. The more capsaicin in the chili pepper, the hotter your food will be.
Capsaicin, the heat chemical in spicy foods, contains antioxidants and vitamins A and C that can improve heart health. This chemical also has anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity properties to help you combat excess weight gain, digestive disorders and cardiovascular diseases.
Yes. By slowly consuming spicy foods, starting with peppers that have low levels of capsaicin, your body can gradually adjust to and build a tolerance to the heat.
The heat in your mouth sends a signal to your brain that your mouth’s “on fire.” The brain then sets off a reaction in the form of sweating and rapid breathing to cool your body down and purge it of the capsaicin causing the heat.
Is Spicy Food for You?
If you’re undergoing rehab for alcoholism, spicy foods may not be the best choice of cuisine for you as it could trigger a desire to drink alcohol with your food. Otherwise, there’s no harm in experimenting with a little spice to add diversity, nutrition and flavor to your meals. Spicy foods are nutritious and delicious, making them a worthy addition to your diet.
Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.