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Improve Your Health With a Little Spice

By Paul Rothbart

Chefs uses a whole arsenal of flavor types to create their dishes. Sweet, salty, savory, tart. There's even umami, though I'm not quite sure what that one is. One of the most important is heat.  A little or for some, a lot of spice adds to the enjoyment of food. I am among those who really enjoy spicy foods. But it's not just flavor and bragging rights that hot cuisine delivers. Spicy foods are actually good for your health in a number of ways. 

Aids Weight Loss

Hot peppers are one of the most common sources of heat in spicy foods. These peppers contain capsaicin, the substance that causes the burning sensation experienced while eating. Capsaicin is very helpful to weight loss as it raises the body's core temperature and increases metabolism. Studies have shown that consuming spicy foods may increase metabolism by as much as 5 percent. A recently conducted study found that after eating food with red chili peppers, people consumed about 75 fewer calories on average.

Fights Depression

This seems unbelievable but it is true. Research has found that capsaicin works to stimulate the production of endorphins. The body senses the heat of the food as pain and counters it by producing serotonin and other endorphins. These are the "feel good" hormones that elevate mood and ease depression. The next time you feel stressed and kind of blue, grab some Thai or Mexican. No prescription needed.

Fights Cancer

In addition to its other healthy functions, capsaicin acts as an antioxidant. These chemicals have become well known for their ability to fight free radicals. These harmful molecules attack body cells and cause oxidative stress that can lead to cancer. Antioxidants reduce the risk of this happening. Spicy foods can be added to the list of foods that fight cancer.

Fights Heart Disease

LDL or bad cholesterol, can cause plaque to build up in the arteries, causing heart disease and increasing the chance of stroke or heart attack. Chili peppers reduce LDL levels in the blood and lower the risk of heart disease. But it doesn't stop there. Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce inflammation, another risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, hot peppers contain Vitamin A and C which may help strengthen the walls of the heart muscle. The heat can increase blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation. This will also help prevent heart disease. 

Variety may be the spice of life, but heat is the spice of food. The addition of spicy ingredients wakes up the taste buds and adds to the enjoyment of a meal. Spice can also be quite helpful in keeping you healthy and preventing a number of detrimental issues. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Logan, Utah.

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