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The Benefits of Spicy Food!

Next time you have a meal, think about adding some peppers to it! With natural endorphins, a longer life, and potential weight loss, what’s not to love about spicy food?

Do you turn away immediately from spicy foods, or do you embrace and love the burn that they omit? Either way, spicy food have benefits that may change your opinion on what you eat!

First of all, what makes peppers so spicy? Capsaicin! This is the chemical in chili peppers that makes them spicy, along with jalapeños and cayenne peppers. Bell peppers are the only member of the capsicum family that don’t contain capsaicin. Capsaicin is an active component of chili peppers, and acts as an irritant which is what produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Capsaicin in chili peppers is measured with High-Performance Liquid Chromatography. This is a method that actually reads the chemical fingerprint of capsaicin in a pepper and is able to measure exactly how much capsaicin that pepper contains. [1]

Spicy food may just be the key to a longer healthier life. A study that included over half a million Chinese people found that people who consumed spicy foods six times a week reduced their risk of death by 14 percent during the course of the seven-year study. Consuming fiery foods just two days a week lowered the risk by 10 percent, compared to people who ate milder fare. [2] It also can have affects on autoimmune conditions—these types of illnesses are less common in countries where a lot of spicy food is consumed. [3]

Spicy food may even help to shave off some extra pounds. Some studies have shown that hot peppers can help curb appetite and speed up metabolism. In a Purdue University study, they found people felt more satisfied after eating spicy foods, and another study found that people consumed less fat after eating high amounts of hot peppers. [3]

Feeling sore or in pain? Spicy foods may help- due to the capsaicin. Capsaicin has been shown to spark the release of the body’s own opioids (endorphins). Capsaicin also has studies that support its antibacterial and antifungal effects, and since spicy peppers are full of vitamins like A and C, they can help boost the immune system. [2]

There are a few downsides though. Capsaicin is a blood thinner, which can be a problem for people on medication. Regularly eating spicy foods can dull your taste buds. Lastly, it can irritate your skin, and depending on the case, cause a great deal of pain. [3]

Next time you have a meal, think about adding some peppers to it! With natural endorphins, a longer life, and potential weight loss, what’s not to love about spicy food?

 


Sources:

[1] “What Makes Chili Peppers Hot?” The Spruce Eats, TheSpruceEats, http://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-capsaicin-995597.

[2] “The 5 Amazing Health Benefits Of Spicy Foods.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Feb. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-5-amazing-health-benefits-of-spicy-foods_us_56b2592ce4b08069c7a5cc36.

[3] TodayShow. “How Hot Do You like It? Spicy Foods Can Bring Many Health Benefits.” TODAY.com, Msnbc.com Contributor, http://www.today.com/health/spicy-foods-health-effects-adding-heat-your-meal-t73591.

[4] Pepper picture credit to picjumbo

1 comment on “The Benefits of Spicy Food!

  1. Pingback: Endorphins: The Natural High! – The Student Scientist

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