Spices add unique flavors and tastes to dishes and also help preserve food. But do you know that many of these flavorful ingredients also make your food healthier? Here are some of the health benefits of spices in your diet.
Curbs Uncontrollable Food Cravings
Research shows that eating spicy dishes can help reduce cravings for fatty, salty, or sweet food. The effect is more pronounced in people who are not regular eaters of spicy food. This is good news for people practicing portion control for optimal weight management.
Chinese researchers have found that eating spicy food every day reduces the risk of death from all causes by 14 percent compared to people who consume foods with spicy ingredients less than once each week.
People tend to eat spicy meals slowly, resulting in a lower caloric intake. Also, spicy foods have peculiar hotness that discourages overeating, effectively eliminating any motivation to overindulge.
Suppresses Ghrelin, the Hunger Hormone
Studies have shown that eating a spicy meal can inhibit the release of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for hunger sensations. It's ghrelin that's at work when you can’t stop yourself from eating that extra mouthful of sugar-laden food. By eating a spicy meal, you can reduce the levels of ghrelin, and avoid overeating and its associated health risks.
Improves Immune Function
Many spices are rich in antioxidants, phenols, and phytochemicals that give them potent antioxidant and antibacterial properties which allows them to protect you against infections and foreign agents. Capsaicin, the active agent which gives chili peppers their spiciness is known to enhance heart health, kidney function and lung health in addition to curbing appetite.
Protects Against Inflammation
Spices are rich in phenols which makes them highly anti-inflammatory. Eating spicy food may protect you against inflammatory symptoms such as swelling, pain, and several inflammation-induced diseases such as Alzheimer's, Crohn's, and autoimmune diseases.
Promotes Blood Circulation
Research shows that capsaicin improves the function of blood vessels and lowers blood pressure levels. Additionally, capsaicinoids are known to reduce LDL bad cholesterol levels.
Eating a diet rich in capsaicin increases your metabolism through thermogenesis, a process that eats up the body. It’s the reason why you feel a heating sensation throughout your body after a spicy meal. Capsaicin can raise your basal metabolic rate by 50 calories, but its effect lasts for a few hours.
Helps Combat Cancer
Spices are highly rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, some of which are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals which oxidizes the cells and DNA to form precancerous tissue. More research is required in this area to understand the cancer-fighting abilities of spices.
Several spices, including garlic, onions, cumin, and capsicums have strong antimicrobial abilities. Researchers have found that cooking with spicy ingredients kills harmful bacteria and fungi in food.
The next time you want to cook, you might want to add some spices. Not only will it improve the taste and flavor of your dishes, but you will also become healthier and full of life!