Danielle Collins, Nutrition Intern

With chilly weather right around the corner, think about turning up the heat – in your food, that is! Transform bland, mild dishes into health superstars by adding dried and fresh peppers such as chilies, cayenne, and jalapeños. Foods with “heat” have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can provide powerful health benefits.

The chemicals found in peppers that give them their kick and cause the burning sensation when consumed are called capsaicinoids. One capsaicinoid in particular, capsaicin is the most well known of these compounds and is found in chilies.

3 Potential Health Benefits of Consuming Spicy Foods:

  • Lose Weight
    • Spicy foods may contribute to weight loss because they speed up metabolism (which means more calories burned…always a plus). According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), including capsaicinoids as part of your diet can help you burn up to 50 extra calories per day. This may not sound like much, but over the course of time it can add up. Also, spicy foods help with appetite suppression and may decrease a person’s amount of abdominal fat.
  • Reduce Risk of Cancer
    • Capsaicin consumed in sufficient quantities may help reduce a person’s risk for different types of cancer such as bladder, pancreatic, and breast cancer.  A study by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that capsaicin caused cancerous cells to undergo apoptosis [programmed cell death] in mice with prostate cancer.
  • Live Longer
    • A study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences found that the risk of mortality decreased by 14% for individuals who consumed spicy foods regularly (6+ servings per week).

Here are some of our favorite ways to add spice to your life:

  • Rev up your mornings with detox water. Combine 16 ounces of warm water, juice from one lemon, a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of maple syrup or stevia to taste.
  • Add a kick to soups and stews by drizzling with your favorite hot sauce [we love Organicville Sky Valley Sriracha]
  • Sprinkle crushed red pepper on your vegetables or eggs