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Health benefits of spicy foods

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

Spice up your life!

Oh how I love spicy foods. In fact, my mouth waters at the mere thought of Indian curry or spicy buffalo chicken sandwiches. Luckily, spicy foods are actually doing our bodies some good.
Chicken curry

While it's true that some people despise spicy foods, a good portion of us love the food and crave it on a daily basis. We live for hot peppers, fiery-hot wings and spicy seasonings on top of just about everything (except for desserts — that would just be wrong). Thankfully, spicy foods are generally good for us. As with anything, though, it's important to remember to eat a balanced diet so our bodies get what they need on a daily basis. Due to the health benefits that spicy foods provide, we can add "spicy foods" to our daily diet, guilt-free!

They're good for your heart

Spicy foods are good for your heart. Cultures that regularly eat foods rich in spice are significantly less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. Capsaicin — a compound found in peppers and hot chilies — helps lower bad cholesterol and reduces inflammation.

Check out more characteristics of a heart-healthy diet >>

Did you know? Turmeric's root can be used for headaches, colds, stomach pain, arthritis, heartburn and menstrual problems, according to WebMD.

They help prevent cancer

Though spicy foods are not a full-on cure for cancer, they can help prevent it. Capsaicin has been found to kill some cancer cells, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. Another spice — turmeric — has been shown to help slow down the spread of certain cancer cells, such as prostate. Turmeric is an Indian spice and is actually the main spice in curry.

They can help you lose weight

Spicy foods help rev up your metabolism — so eat up! After eating something spicy, you burn more calories than if you were to have eaten something bland. Also, studies show that spicy foods leave you feeling more satisfied than their nonspicy counterparts. This means you're more likely to stick to your diet and not overeat. Try adding some hot sauce to your next meal and see if you notice a difference.

For more on foods that aid in weight loss, check out these top 10 power foods for women >>

Smaller benefits of eating spicy foods

hot sauce

Though heart health, cancer prevention and weight loss are reasons enough to add more spice to your life, there are some smaller, hidden benefits to eating spicy foods as well. These include:

  • Boosts mood. Spicy foods increase serotonin in your brain, which makes you feel happier. Serotonin also helps you relax and feel less stressed.
  • Relieves the common cold. That's correct — spicy foods help fight symptoms of the common cold by helping you work up a sweat.
  • More restful sleep. Those who consume spicy foods regularly have a faster and easier time falling asleep and staying asleep. Say goodbye to insomnia!
  • Reduces acne. A strange side effect, but a good one nonetheless. Spicy foods can help clear up severe acne if eaten regularly.
  • Full of vitamins and minerals. Spicy foods are usually packed with vitamins and minerals — particularly vitamin C.

Recipes with spice

Super-spicy chicken stir-fry
5 Spicy, savory dinner recipes
One-skillet spicy sausage pasta

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