Spice Up Your Life

“Sweet or salty?” is the question I always ask myself when I’m looking for a snack. I feel like there is always a line drawn between the two. When you’re raiding the pantry after a long day, there’s always one that just feels right. But what about other flavors? Why aren’t we ever inclined to go for a savory snack? How many times have you been asked “are you a sweet or spicy person?” Probably not very many. But that’s okay, because maybe we shouldn’t be drawing lines. You should be a sweet and spicy person, and I’m going to tell you why. Spicy foods are really really good for your health! There are so many reasons why you should start spicing up your life, and this blog is going to explain why!

If you’ve ever gone to a restaurant and had something super spicy, you know just how intense the heat of spices can be! Jalapeños will have your eyes watering and mouth burning in no time, and can sometimes even have you regretting your choices. But if you tone down the heat just a little bit, you will find an abundance of health benefits and a really good flavor. You don’t need to tear up for them to be helpful either. When cooking food in the kitchen, try adding chili peppers, or other various spices. Don’t be afraid to try something new and add a little kick to your food. If you don’t like spicy food, maybe it’s time to start getting used to the idea and here’s why:

Health Benefits of Spicy Food:

  • Anti-inflammatory: spicy foods can actually offer pain relief. Chronic diseases like arthritis are seen much less in places that have a spicier diet. Also, consuming certain types of spices can release endorphins which are your body’s natural pain relievers.
  • Weight loss: whether it’s the fact that your mouth is on fire, or that spices like chili, cayenne and paprika curb your appetite naturally, spicing up your dishes is going to help you to lose weight. We all know that very real heat that occurs when we eat something like a jalapeño. This heat actually stimulates our metabolism and speeds it up. You are also less likely to eat fattier foods after a hot meal (although this may be due to feeling as though your tongue has fallen off as opposed to real science).
  • Cancer Prevention: It seems like these days everything is a carcinogen. And honestly, with what we put in packaged food and sugary drinks, it’s easy to see why. But spicy things may prevent early onset cancer. Spicy foods have been shown to shrink and prevent cancer cells from forming. Adding different spices to your foods or going out to get spicier cuisine can actually help you when it comes to preventing cancer.
  • Stomach Protection: Contrary to what many believe, spicy foods are good for your stomach. Obviously if you are not used to eating fiery foods regularly, ease into it, but spicing up your life can improve your stomach lining. Consuming spicy things can reduce the amount of gastric acid that is released and can therefore keep your stomach chemical balances in check.
  • Variety of nutrients: Chili peppers are high in vitamins A and C and even contain bits of calcium. Vitamin A helps with eyesight and vitamin C helps your body make healthy skin and bones.
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Cholesterol: Spicy foods have been seen to reduce the risk of heart disease and also keep cholesterol buildup at bay.

There are so many ways that spicy foods can help you, and these were just a few. So how can you make spicy foods a part of your diet?

Spicy cooking tips:

  • Use spices that add a little kick: Shaking some spices into your dishes can add not only spice, but flavor! Chili powder, cayenne pepper, any Cajun spices and flavors, red pepper flakes are all good ones to use when cooking at home!
  • Use fresh ingredients: it’s not just McCormick spices that can spice up your meals. Lots of fresh peppers can add heat to your palate. Jalapenos are obvious, but even garlic can add some extra kick to your food. Capsaicin is what makes things spicy, so the more a food has, the spicier it will be. Hot peppers, habanero peppers and chili peppers are just a few.

pepper

Not all spiciness is the same however. It might be easy to turn to condiments like siracha for more kick, but that doesn’t mean you should succumb to the ease of pouring it on your foods. There are hidden processed ingredients even in condiments that you shouldn’t be putting into your body. Leave the chemical laden spicy condiments on the shelf!

There are certain types of foods that are spicier than others. A lot of Asian cuisine, especially dishes with curry can have your mouth heating up. Stir-fries are also a great go-to for when you want to get a variety of flavors especially with spice. Hispanic dishes too, can pack in the heat. When you go out to Mexican restaurants you’ll often see the different levels of sauces and salsas for pouring over your food. Even the milder sauces can get your tongue tingling, and forget about the hottest ones. No amount of water can save my taste buds after a taste of those.

salsa

But like I said before, you don’t need to add heat to the point of pain. If your diet consists of just a little bit of spiciness, you can lose weight, reduce your risk for a variety of diseases and also get nutrients. If you’re looking for a snack, sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on your popcorn. For dinner, go for an Asian or Cajun flavor and spice up your meal that way. Forget sweet and salty, start making spicy a flavor that you reach for. With countless health benefits, there are so many reasons why you should start spicing up your life! It’s beneficial, effortless, and best of all, delicious!