Browse Front PageShare Your Idea

7 Health Benefits of Spicy Food You Didn’t Know About.

0 Heart it! Emily Leary 92
October 24, 2018
Emily Leary
0 Heart it! 92

We all know the health benefits you can get from a wide range of super foods. Time after time, studies show that garlic can lower cholesterol, broccoli can boost the immune system, walnuts improve your heart health and salmon and sardines serve the brain well with Omega-3 fats.

But, there seems to be a new super food in town. It seems more of the nutrition-conscious are turning to spicy food to address their health and weight loss woes. Evidence keeps cropping up that supports spicy food as a solution for many health afflictions; from low moods to high blood pressure to cancer. Often, spicy foods get a bad rap because they’ve been known to cause stomach problems. However, there’s evidence that this can be avoided in most cases, so long as you chow down on spice in moderation!

I took a deep dive into the world of culinary spices to find how it could boost my health in a wide variety of ways. I wanted to know – could chilli be the new super food?

Lowers blood pressure & improves heart health

There are tonnes of studies that point to hot chillis being able to protect people from high blood pressure and heart disease. Chillis are packed with Vitamins A and C, which are great at strengthening the muscle walls of your heart. In a recent study, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that capsaicin lowers blood cholesterol levels and blocks a gene that makes arteries contract. This means capsaicin can help prevent dangerous blockages of blood flow.

Plus, the heat from hot chillis increases blood flow throughout your body which is great for your circulation and creates a stronger, better cardiovascular system.

Lifts your immune system & reduces congestion

You know how after eating a hot laksa soup, your nose just won’t stop running? Eating spicy food can help ease sinus congestion and relieve clogged nasal passages. Because it increases body temperature, it can also fight fever and relieve flu symptoms. This is a major plus for me, as I always seem to catch almost every cold that goes around! So, I’ll definitely be grabbing a bowl of spicy soup the next time I’m battling a fever. There’s also a bunch of helpful recipes online with chilli peppers, horseradish or wasabi.

Prevents cancer

According to a Nottingham University study, hot chilli peppers may have the power to kill pancreatic and lung cancer cells without harming any surrounding cells. Some researchers believe this could help explain why there are lower rates of some cancers in places like Mexico and India, where hot chillis are used in many day-to-day meals; compared to countries with blander Western diets.

But it’s not just hot chillis that may have the capacity to kill cancer cells. One particular spice found in curry powder and some mustards – turmeric – may slow the spread of cancer and the growth of tumors, with hospital trials being sparked by the discovery. The same study found that pairing the turmeric with black pepper can allow the body to absorb up to 2,000 per cent more of the beneficial properties. I guess it’s time to add some turmeric and some black pepper to all of my favourite kebab, soup and roast veggie dishes.

Reduces stomach problems

Some like it hot! (Like me.) But unfortunately for some, hot chillis have a bad rap when it comes to stomach issues. There’s a lot of evidence that shows capsaicin causes stomach ulcers, however other hot spices might do your stomach some good! According to some experts, ginger and other spices can even do wonders for your digestion by reducing inflammation and help treat gastric infections. Curcumin for instance, works as an anti-inflammatory and has shown promise in recent years in treating irritable bowel syndrome and general digestive discomfort by inhibiting specific pain receptors.

Helps with weight loss

There’s two reasons that spicy food may be able to help contribute to weight loss. For one, spices from all over the world are excellent flavour enhancers, making some of your blander, healthy meals more interesting; and therefore making you more likely to stick to your weight loss plan. A mild salmon and rice salad can be transformed with just a splash of chilli oil or a sprinkling of chilli flakes. There’s also some evidence, namely, from an Adelaide University study, that some of the main compounds in chillies can help send the brain messages that the stomach is fuller than it is.

Relieves pain

Capsaicin may cause your mouth to burn in some instances, but it has a fascinating relationship to pain. Capsaicin normally irritates at first, however, it is followed by a useful numbing effect. That’s why it’s used in topical treatments, like creams for joint pain and arthritis. A variant of capsaicin, called resiniferatoxin, is also used as an injected pain reliever.

Boosts your mood

I’m always in the market for a natural stress reliever. There’s evidence that spicy foods can boost the production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin. So there’s another reason to chow down on those spicy beef tacos!

So yes – chilli could be the new super food of choice. Added to a soup, salad or a meat/rice dish, the culinary options are endless. Enough writing for me – time to chow does on some spicy treats!

Image Credit: @oelli

Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
0 Heart it! Emily Leary 92
0 Heart it! 92

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.