The Benefits of Eating Spicy Foods

Dorian Martin Aug 13th, 2015 (updated Aug 13th, 2015)
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Many world cuisines boast spicy dishes, such as Phall in the United Kingdom, Southeast Asia’s Otak-Otak, Korea’s Kimchi Jjigae, Thailand’s Pad Prik Khing, China’s Sichuan Huoguo, the Caribbean’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken, and Hot Wings in the U.S. The higher the Scoville scale, the spicer! As it turns out, regularly eating food high up the Scoville scale offers many health benefits.

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Spice up a longer life
Spice up a longer life

Spicy foods may boost longevity, according to a study of almost 500,000 Chinese participants. Participants who ate spicy foods 6-7 days a week had a 14-percent reduced risk of death than those who ate spicy foods less than once week. Participants who ate spicy foods regularly also had a reduced risk of dying from cancer, ischemic heart disease, respiratory disease and infection.

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Spice treats chronic illnesses
Spice treats chronic illnesses

Scotch Bonnets, which are used in a number of cuisines, are among the hottest peppers known at 100,000-350,000 Scovilles. The capsaicin (which gives peppers their kick) inhibits inflammatory processes. This component is being studied as a treatment for arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.

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Spice fights fat
Spice fights fat

Habanero peppers also are darn spicy, coming in at 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units. This pepper is between 12-140 times hotter than a jalapeno on average. Researchers have found that chili peppers in general can help protect blood fats from being damaged by free radicals, which otherwise can lead to atherosclerosis - a cardiovascular disease that results from the build-up of fat and cholesterol.

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Spicy palate, healthy heart
Spicy palate, healthy heart

This pepper, which is often used in Peruvian food, is a bright-orange chile with a medium to hot heat level. This pepper boasts a lot of fruitiness that is more subtle than the flavor of a poblano pepper. Some researchers have found that eating these peppers may lower resting heart rate and increase the amount of blood that reaches the heart.

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Spicy seasonings aid stiff joints
Spicy seasonings aid stiff joints

Curry pastes are made by blending clarified butter (known as ghee), curry powder, vinegar and other seasonings, including tumeric. Curry pastes vary by regions as well as by cuisine and often have some ingredients that make them distinct. The tumeric in curry paste serves as an anti-inflammatory, which clean and restores the liver, as well as aids against arthritis.

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Spice suppresses appetite
Spice suppresses appetite

The cayenne pepper originated in Central and South America. Consuming cayenne pepper can help suppress appetite and increase thermogenesis (the burning of body fat). In addition, this pepper has been shown to drain congested nasal passages and may help prevent ulcers.

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Jalapenos are a spice powerhouse
Jalapenos are a spice powerhouse

Jalapeno peppers are rich in vitamin C, which helps with immunity and fights the aging process. This pepper also has vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E and most B vitamins. Jalapenos include potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese. These peppers offer antioxidant support and promote a healthy nervous system, red blood cells and bone health.

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Spice that stimulates digestion
Spice that stimulates digestion

Berbere is a spice mix that is a foundational flavoring of Ethiopian foods. It's compromised of several spices like garlic, allspice, red pepper, ginger and more. It also includes a large amount of cayenne pepper! For a milder version, some people substitute paprika for part or all of the red pepper. This mixture stimulates the digestive and circulatory systems.

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Spice that packs a health punch
Spice that packs a health punch

Sichuan pepper oil, which is used in some types of Chinese cooking, gets its zing from Szechuan peppercorns, which are the pinkish dried out husks of a prickly ash shrub. This peppercorn is one of the richest sources of essential oils, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.