Spicy food feels just right for summer, when fiery tacos, saucy curries, and peppery pasta are on the menu. You might not realize that spicy food also has health benefits.
Spice and your metabolism
Hot spices, including ginger, red peppers, and even cinnamon, can rev up your metabolism. This can make it easier to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight. A number of studies have found that Capsaicin, the spicy part of chili peppers, encourages weight loss and helps people keep weight off.
A review of 90 studies found that capsaicin increased energy use and lipid oxidation while reducing appetite. That is, it sped up the metabolism and caused people to burn more calories temporarily.
Capsaicin also made people feel more satisfied with fewer calories’ worth of food. People given spicy food naturally ate fewer calories — that is, they ate less without trying. They also were less likely to snack after meals. It seems as though spices make food more satisfying so people don’t feel they need as much.
Similar results have been found for ginger.
Flavoring foods with spices instead of salt, fat, or sugar can make it easier to stick to healthy eating goals.
Spicy foods can help you live longer
A large population study published n the British Medical Journal found that people who are spicy foods regularly lived longer than those who did not. This study took place in China, with the involvement of the Harvard School of Pubic Health.
More recent research from international studies confirmed the results, showing that spice lovers had lower mortality from all causes, and particularly from cancer and heart disease.
An occasional serving of salsa won’t do the trick. These studies looked at people who ate chili peppers most days over a long period of time. Still, that’s a reason to add spicy food to your menu.
How to spice up your diet
How can you bring spices into your meals? Certainly, choosing spicy foods when you decide on a restaurant or plan your meals is an obvious choice.
Here are some of our recipes that include spices:
- Morning Glory Muffins
- Tropical Smoothies
- Khaeng Jut Pak (Southeast Asian Soup)
- Country Captain
- Thai Style Salmon Cakes
We hope you’ll enjoy one or more of these enough to put it into your usual cooking rotation!