There are few things in the food world that evoke stronger opinions than spice. Do you go for the mild salsa, the medium, or the three-alarm hot version? Fortunately for people who do love spice (and not just the fiery spice from capsaicin found in chili peppers), science is in your favor. Spices, such as cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and cumin, as well as chili, host many health benefits.
If you’re an agnostic or simply don’t like the heat, here are five compelling reasons to reconsider adding a little spice to your day.
1. Spicy food has longevity benefits
Eating spicy food six or seven days a week, even just once a day, lowered mortality rates by 14 percent, according to a large 2015 study by Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Sadly, the benefits are even larger if you skip the margarita or Corona with your spicy taco.)
2. Spicy food speeds up your metabolism
Data across numerous studies indicates that certain spices, such as cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, peppers, and chilies, can raise your metabolic resting rate and slow down your appetite. One study also found that turmeric suppressed fat tissue growth in mice. The effect is mild, so putting cinnamon on your roll probably isn’t going to aid in weight loss. However, if you’ve reached a plateau in your weight loss journey, spicing it up may be just the thing to try. Although cinnamon is not really spicy (regarding taste), the health benefits are there!
3. Spices combat inflammation
Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may reduce inflammation in the body. In Ayurvedic medicine, the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and garlic have been used for centuries to treat a range of conditions, such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and even headaches and nausea.
Spices may even help fight cancer cells…Caution Note!
Capsaicin, an active component of chili peppers, has been shown to slow and destroy cancer cells. A UCLA study found that capsaicin inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells in mice while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
Caution! Capsaicin, the fiery substance found in chili peppers, can elicit intense short-term symptoms, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in those who consume extreme amounts. This occurs due to overstimulation of the nervous system. The good news is no permanent damage is done to the intestinal lining. Though it was previously believed that spicy foods could lead to ulcers, current evidence now confirms that capsaicin provides protection against the ulcer pathogen, H. pylori. Capsaicin also acts as a pain reliever when applied topically or ingested. That said, if you’re new to eating spicy foods, increase your intake slowly to minimize undesirable symptoms.
5. Spices help kill bacteria
No matter your preference, sweet or savory, spices can be incorporated into any diet. The result is a satisfying and healthy addition. They can even increase two feel-good chemicals in the body, endorphins and dopamine. This may also explain that spicy food craving you can’t seem to kick. Spices can also help you cut down on the amount of unhealthy fats and sweets that are too easily added as a quick fix for taste.
In short, ditch the sugar and add some spice to improve and extend your lifestyle and culinary horizons.
Adapted from: Lindsey Dodge Gudritz
Nutrition Tip of the Day
Eat when you eat! Try not to do simultaneous activities such as typing, watching TV or driving when you eat. You’ll appreciate each bite even more.