Eating spicy foods can be a point of pride for some people. Friends compete to see who can eat the hottest wings without crying. Restaurants tout their Ghost Pepper salsas, and TV show crews travel thousands of miles to film their hosts taking on spicy food challenges at fairs and festivals. But aside from a badge of honor — and maybe the thrill of it — there are several benefits to eating spicy foods.
Of course, if you already have reflux or gastro issues, eating spicy foods may make you feel worse. But, if you don’t have these issues and your stomach is strong, you may experience some of these health benefits of spicy foods:
1. A boost in metabolism.
Studies have shown that people who eat spicy foods burned more calories and had less of an appetite after eating red pepper. Spicy foods, like hot peppers, contain the capsaicin, an active compound which helps boost metabolism. Of course, dousing fattening foods in hot sauce doesn’t cancel it out, but if eaten as part of a healthy diet, you might be able to shed some pounds.
2. It curbs cravings.
Eating spicy foods has been found to lower the desire to eat fat, salty, or sweet foods. Similar to how a mouth full of minty toothpaste decreases your desire to eat food afterward, when you have that hot and spicy taste still lingering on your tongue, the last thing you’re craving is cookies.
3. It may boost immunity.
Eating Spicy Nacho Doritos won’t rid your of your common cold, but there is data that shows capsaicin has antibacterial effects, and even possibly anti fungal effects. So while hot wings won’t help you, a little dash of cayenne pepper in your chicken soup might actually help banish the sniffles.
4. It reduces inflammation.
Capsaicin is known to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is known to be linked to diseases such as hearth disease, stroke, and autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. These types of autoimmune diseases are less common in countries where spicy foods are prevalent.
5. It can help prevent cancer.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin may kill some cancer and leukemic cells. This held particularly true with turmeric. The orange-hued spice showed the ability to slow the spread of cancer and growth of tumors.
6. It may extend your life.
A 2015 study of more than 500,000 Chinese found that those who ate fiery foods six times a week ago had a reduced risk of death by 14 percent over the course of the sever-year study. Compared to those who ate a milder diet, consuming spicy foods just twice a week lowered their risk by 10 percent.
Also see, How to make your own chili seasoning.