Is spicy food good for you? Yes, it is! It’s not only delicious, it may even help you live longer. According to a recent study, “Eating spicy food more frequently as part of a daily diet is associated with a lower risk of death. The association was also found for deaths from certain conditions such as cancer, and ischemic heart and respiratory diseases.”
And that’s not all — you’ll be amazed at these 12 health benefits of spicy food.
1. Pain Relief
Capsaicin is what puts the heat in chili peppers. A recent study at UC Davis found that, “…researchers have identified the molecular interactions that allow capsaicin to activate the body’s primary receptor for sensing heat and pain, paving the way for the design of more selective and effective drugs to relieve pain.”
Read Related: Some Like It Hot: Spicy Mexican Rice Recipe
2. Clear Your Sinuses
Have you ever noticed that your nose starts running when you bite into something seriously hot? Hot peppers keep your nasal passages clear two ways. First, they act like a decongestant and second, they contain vitamin A which strengthens your mucous membrane.
3. Boost Your Metabolism
Several studies have shown that capsaicin is a natural metabolism booster. There’s still some debate but a 2015 study at the University of Wyoming found that this may be due to capsaicin’s ability to turn white fat (stored) into brown fat (burned for energy) in mice.
4. Protect Against Ulcers
You read it right! Are you still wondering is spicy food good for you? Rather than avoiding spicy foods when your stomach aches, you should be enjoying them. Hot peppers have nutrients that protect your stomach lining and studies have shown that adding heat to your diet is actually an excellent way to ward off stomachaches from many things including medication and alcohol.
5. Reduce Appetite
A 2011 study at Purdue University found that, “…those who did not consume red pepper regularly experienced a decrease of hunger, especially for fatty, salty and sweet foods.” Unfortunately, the more you eat spicy foods, the less they affect your appetite.
6. Cardiovascular Health
This is one of the best health benefits of spicy food. Studies have shown that capsaicin can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Even better, it may prevent arteries from contracting and creating blood clots which could lead to heart attacks.
7. Endorphin Rush
If you can’t get enough spicy food, it may not just be the flavor you crave. When you eat something that burns your tongue, you feel pain and your body responds by releasing endorphins to make it go away!
8. Improve Circulation
Capsaicin not only reduces blood pressure, it improves circulation. That’s why you sometimes turn red when you eat the heat.
9. Pain Relief
Capsaicin can be used topically as a pain reliever but eating it eases pain too because it’s a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
11. Better Digestion
Sichuan and black peppercorns aid digestion by increasing your gut’s secretion of enzymes and gastro-intestinal fluid.
12. Protect Against Foodborne Illness
Research shows that many spices contain antimicrobial properties that help fight a variety of foodborne illnesses.