Sometimes, the Spicier the Better


By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by Adam Baker via Flickr
Original Image by Adam Baker via Flickr

I still am amazed how my taste buds have changed within the last year.  When my parents moved to GA, I was fortunate enough that family friends took me in to live with them for the rest of my undergraduate program.  Not only did they give me a roof over my head, but they gave me some more flavor.

Living with them, I was introduced to flavors that I never really ate.  I’ve always shied away from spicy foods because I hadn’t been exposed to them.  WIth my dad’s GERD, my mother didn’t cook with spicy flavors.  However, with continuous exposure to spicier dishes in my new home, I developed an affinity for spicy flavors.  A couple weeks ago, I opted for spicy Italian sausage at the grocery store.  I would’ve never chosen that over mild a year ago.

I’m glad my taste has changed.  I’ve started to appreciate a wider range of foods.  The active ingredient that gives foods the extra kick is capsaicin–found in everyday foods such as jalapenos, cayenne pepper and red chili peppers.

Benefits:

  • Can temporarily boost metabolism up to 8%
  • Can help you feel more “satisfied” with meal–study showed that those that chose spicier dishes consumed 200 fewer calories than those who didn’t have hot sauce on plate
  • May lower bad cholesterol
  • Capsaicin blocks a gene that narrows the arteries–> increasing blood flow in the vessels.
  • Turmeric, which is a spice used in Indian cuisine, contains the active antioxidant curcumin.  Curcumin has been shown to have some anti-cancer effects
  • Can help one attain their recommended intake of vitamin C, which can decrease risk of cancer, heart disease the common cold
  • May fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer!
  • Can reduce acne
  • Increases serotonin in one’s brain–improves mood

If you’d like to spice up your life, a gradual introduction of these flavors is key.  Add a dab of salsa on your eggs in the morning or a dab of chili paste in your next dish of pasta.  You may even like it!

Sources:

http://blogs.rhsmith.umd.edu/yangzhao/fun-and-fearless/home-spicy-home/

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/988185/health-benefits-of-spicy-foods

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-spicy-food-7569.html

http://www.liveinthenow.com/article/infographic-capsaicin-levels-of-peppers-for-heart-health

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