Last updated on March 28, 2020.
People in Hong Kong love spicy food. With culinary influences ranging from Sichuan to Thailand, Hong Kongers have plenty of choice when it comes to eating more spicy. Spicy food can come in many forms, like turmeric or hot chilli pepper. But are there actually good reasons to eat spicy food other than to challenge your tastebuds or your friends? Below are seven notable health benefits to eating spicy! Which ones did you know?
1. Weight loss
Love food but want to lose weight? No problem, just add some spice to your recipes. Hot pepper can actually raise your metabolism by using more calories and it can also oxidise fat, meaning it can push the body to use more fat fuel. Purdue University also found that spicy food decreases your appetite, lowering the number of calories you absorb. Who says you can’t lose weight when you eat food.
2. Heart disease
If you think your heart can’t handle trying spicy food, think again. Dr Michael Miller, Professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that capsaicin can affect blood vessels and causes them to dilate, which can lead to lower blood pressure. Other than that, curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory elements that help reverse damage to blood vessels and it also helps lower cholesterol and prevents bad cholesterol from building up.
3. Cancer prevention
What if we told you that eating spicy food can help you prevent the number one cause of death in Hong Kong? According to the Cancer Research in the UK, they found that curcumin (which is a component in turmeric) can reduce the growth of cancer cell and also preventing them.
Ever wonder what are some of the reasons to live a long life? A study from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences found that people who eat spicy food six or seven times a week had a 14 percent lower risk of dying early. Nutritionists hypothesize that it might be because eating spicy food leads to weight loss, heart disease and cancer prevention that it is able to help people live longer.
5. Happier Moments
Feeling down? Hot pepper is found to make you happier. Capsaicin tricks the brain into thinking that we are hurting, which releases endorphins to relieve pain and dopamine which is responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure. This is why hot peppers are said to help ease depression and stress. You can read more about depression here.
6. Dulling pain
If you are sick and hoping the pain will temporarily go away, hot pepper may be the answer. When you have a headache, the National Headache Foundation in the United States says that eating food with hot pepper can help dull the pain. But that’s not all. Hot pepper (which contains capsaicin) can also be used externally to dull or deaden the pain, which is why capsaicin is in pain relief creams and medications. Note: rubbing hot pepper on painful joints might not be effective because it does not have high concentrated capsaicin, unlike pain relief creams!
7. Flu and Colds
Other than dulling pain, chilli pepper is also used to clear out nasal passages. This will not make the flu go away but at least it will allow you to breathe better again.
Here at Healthy Matters, we have real spicy food lovers which is why we were so excited to dig this out for you. Enjoy and just make sure not to burn your tongue with excessive hot pepper!