Unleash the Heat: Benefits of Adding Spice

March 21, 2016 Edited by  
Filed under Dietary Patterns, General

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If you’re a seeker of spicy foods, you may not only be increasing health benefits of your diet but increasing the possibility of a longer life.

Don’t fear the heat! A 2015 study looking at half a million people over a seven year period found that the consumption of spicy foods six-times per week reduced the risk of death by 14%, a 10% decreased risk was also seen when consumed twice a week. So what are the benefits these fiery foods provide?

Weight loss – Hot peppers have been shown to speed up metabolism and curb appetite. Researchers at Purdue University found satiating effects after eating fiery foods. In addition, a senior dietitian and professor at UCLA points to the relationship of how the scorching sensation in your mouth slows food consumption saying, “If you eat more slowly, you’re more likely to notice your body’s satiety cues. Some data has even shown that capsaicin (the active component of chili peppers) can increase the ability to burn calories.

Anti-inflammatory effects – Capsaicin may help with autoimmune conditions as these illnesses are less common in countries were spicy foods are consumed regularly.

Antimicrobial effects – Hot peppers have been used to preserve food and studies show capsaicin to have antibacterial and antifungal effects.

Pain Relief – When used topically, Capsaicin aids in the release of the body’s own opioids.

Be aware that there may be some downsides to consuming these scorching morsels, such as damaged taste buds (which will regenerate), uncomfortable bowel movements, and thinning of the blood. Individuals taking medications like warfarin should be cautious of capsaicin as it may thin blood too much, for others the blood thinning effects may be a benefit.

So if you’re an enthusiast of the heat… turn up the dial, as for many the good outweighs the bad.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Amanda Cravinho for her contributions to this post.



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