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Health Monster

5 Surprising Health Reasons to Eat More Spicy Foods This Year

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Sriracha lovers — we have good news: adding a hint of heat to your plate does more than please your taste buds, it can benefit your health tremendously! Eating spicy food is usually linked with stomach issues such as ulcers and digestive upset but recent research indicate that it might not be the case. In fact, there is significant support suggesting that when it comes to liking it spicy, the good far outweighs the bad. Apart from the nutritional aspect (chili peppers are high in vitamin A and C and are a good source of iron!), capsaicin, a chemical compound found in hot peppers has anti-inflammatory properties and is showing promise as a natural therapeutic agent in a variety of health issues.

Want to know more? Here are our top five reasons why we’ll be including more spicy foods into our diet this year and why we believe you should do the same! As a bonus, we’ve rounded up some of the best recipes with just the right amount of kick from the Food Monster App.

1. Prevent CancerCaribbean Callaloo Soup [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Eating spicy food may ‘kill’ our taste buds temporarily, but it turns out that a good dose of chili peppers or other hot peppers has the power to kill cancer cells, too. In fact, in a study by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the positive effect of capsaicin was described as “making tumor cells commit suicide”. As a bioactive phytochemical, capsaicin found in hot peppers impacts cancer cells at multiple stages on a molecular level. Namely, the compound has the ability to target tumor-suppressing genes and has been shown to prevent metastasis.

That’s surely impressive! If you want to reap the amazing power of hot peppers, you have to try this Caribbean Callaloo Soup (pictured above), these Potato Stuffed Chili Peppers, these Poblano Chili Bowls, and this Spicy Black Pepper Tofu.

2. Aid in Weight ManagementCurry Laksa [Vegan]

Eating spicy foods has a beneficial impact on our metabolism which may help us manage our weight. How? Well, capsaicin has been shown to play a role in regulating fat metabolism and adipose tissue distribution. The compound found in hot peppers helps us feel satiated while also increasing our energy expenditure — the literal heat wave we feel after eating something spicy. Because of its positive effects on calories burned and fat loss, capsaicin is actually being looked at as a potential anti-obesity drug. How amazing is that?

Need recipe ideas to feel the burn (and help you burn some calories)? Try out this flavorful Spicy Curry Laksa, pictured above. These Chipotle Lentil Taquitos, this Roasted Poblano Soup, these Portobello Adobo Burgers with a dash of this Trinidad Hot Pepper Sauce are also great options for a healthy dinner with a kick.

3. Protect Your Heart

Three Bean Sriracha Chili/One Green Planet

Hot peppers get our blood pumping after we eat them so the fact that they’re good for our heart isn’t that surprising. Again, capsaicin, the ‘all-star’ phytochemical found in peppers is responsible for all the heart-healthy benefits of our favorite spicy meals. The compound works in two main ways to prevent cardiovascular disease — it reduces accumulation of cholesterol in our bodies and increases the breakdown of existing cholesterol.

Some of our favorite heart-healthy recipes that bring just the right amount of heat include these Habanero Kale Chips, these Indian Spicy Sauteed Mushrooms, and this Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta With Shiitake Bacon.

4. Lower Blood Pressure

Are you one of these people that can’t take the heat? Well, this piece of information might make you reconsider your avoidance of peppers. The pain we feel from eating spicy foods is actually part of the benefits it has on our blood pressure. By activating channels in our sensory nerves, capsaicin causes the release of neuropeptides which are responsible for the disagreeable burning sensation we feel. However, activation of these channels found in endothelial cells also creates a cascade of events on the cellular level that brings about a reduction in blood pressure levels.

Next time you get asked if you’d like it mild or spicy, be daring and go for the hotter option! Want to make your own caliente recipes? We suggest trying out these Easy Peri Peri Oven-Baked Carrot Fries, these Schezwan Baby Potatoes, this Red Jackfruit Pozole, and these Jerk Cauliflower Tacos (pictured above).

5. Boost Your MoodSweet Chili Habañero Glazed Cauliflower Wings

Sweet Chili Habanero Glazed Cauliflower/One Green Planet

Ever wondered why we love spicy foods even though they cause pain? The answer lies in the after effect it has on our mood. Capsaicin, the famous biochemical compound found in all hot peppers can give you a rush of endorphins which will temporarily elevate your mood. It also increases activity in our cerebral opioid system causing a feeling of euphoria in some people.

Want to boost your mood with delicious fiery recipes? We’ve got you! Try out this Thai Hot and Sour Soup, these Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas, this Sweet and Spicy Tamale Stuffed With Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, and Peppers, and these Spicy Sofritas Black Bean Bowls.

Recommended Resources and RecipesVegan grain-free ndian Spiced Pumpkin and Jackfruit Chili topped with vegan cream

Indian Spiced Pumpkin and Jackfruit Chili/One Green Planet

Want to give your taste buds a challenge and learn more about the benefits of spicy foods? Here are a few articles and recipes that might interest you:

If you’re looking for more delicious recipes with a kick and amazing health benefits, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!


Lead Image Source: Shutterstock

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