The Benefits of Spicy Foods

There are few things in the food world that evoke stronger opinions than spice.

Do you go for the mild salsa, the medium, or the three-alarm hot version?

Fortunately for people who do love spice (and not just the fiery spice from capsaicin found in chili peppers), science is in your favor. Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and cumin, as well as chili, host many health benefits.

If you’re an agnostic or simply don’t like the heat, here are five compelling reasons to reconsider adding a little spice to your day.

Spicy food has longevity benefits

Eating spicy food six or seven days a week — even just once a day — lowered mortality rates by 14 percent, according to a large 2015 study by Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Sadly, the benefits are even larger if you skip the margarita or Corona with your spicy taco.)

Spicy food speeds up your metabolism

Data across numerous studies indicates that certain spices — like cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, peppers, and chilies — can raise your metabolic resting rate and slow down your appetite. One study also found that turmeric suppressed fat tissue growth in mice.

The effect is mild, so putting cinnamon on your roll probably isn’t going to aid in weight loss. But if you’ve reached a plateau in your weight loss journey, spicing it up may be just the thing to try.

Spices combat inflammation

Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may reduce inflammation in the body. In Ayurvedic medicine, the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and garlic have been used for centuries to treat a range of conditions, like arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and even headaches and nausea.

Spices may even help fight cancer cells

Capsaicin, an active component of chili peppers, has been shown to slow and destroy cancer cells. A UCLA study found that capsaicin inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells in mice while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Spices help kill bacteria

Cumin and turmeric have been shown to have powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. This means they can be used against harmful bacteria in the body.

Recipes to spice up your life

Ready to get in on the benefits of spicy food and rev up your health? Try out the fiery recipes below.

Spicy Avocado Toast with Egg

If you’re looking for an easy, everyday spicy meal substitute, look no further than this amazing spicy avocado toast with egg from Isabel Eats.

Cinnamon Spice Pepitas

Combining spice, protein, and healthy fats is key for healthy snacking. So why not try this simple and sweet cinnamon spice pepitas recipe from Spoonful of Flavor?

Lemon Ginger Turmeric Iced Tea

When you’re dealing with illness, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time in the kitchen or eat a heavy meal. Sip on this refreshing and delicious lemon ginger turmeric iced tea instead, courtesy of the Unconventional Baker.

Cumin Rice

The next time you’re feeling under the weather — or if you just need a butt-kicking side dish to your main fare — try this cumin rice recipe from Budget Bytes. Flavorful and mild to sensitive stomachs, it’s also a total bargain. Win!

Word of caution

Capsaicin, the fiery substance found in chili peppers, can elicit intense short-term symptoms, like stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in those who consume extreme amounts. This occurs due to overstimulation of the nervous system. The good news is no permanent damage is done to the intestinal lining.

Though it was previously believed that spicy foods could lead to ulcers, current evidence now confirms that capsaicin provides protection against the ulcer pathogen, H. pylori. Capsaicin also acts as a pain reliever when applied topically or ingested. That said, if you’re new to eating spicy foods, increase your intake slowly to minimize undesirable symptoms.

  • Stacey R. Jones
    Posted at 10:19h, 28 August

    Thank you.

  • Jwagoner
    Posted at 19:30h, 27 August

    thank you!

  • Shayna Abel
    Posted at 15:47h, 27 August

    Love this!

  • Kasheen Hutson
    Posted at 13:16h, 27 August

    Great info

  • Joyce WILLIAMS
    Posted at 20:13h, 26 August

    alway love reading your post

  • Nicole Schmitz
    Posted at 17:24h, 26 August

    Always enjoy the helpful unfo

    Posted at 13:52h, 26 August

    Glad I love spicy food

  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:27h, 26 August

    Good read! Much appreciated!

  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:27h, 26 August

    Much appreciated

  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:26h, 26 August

    Good education!

  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:26h, 26 August


  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:26h, 26 August


  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:25h, 26 August

    Good article!

  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:25h, 26 August

    Thank you! Good article!

  • Kari Smith
    Posted at 12:25h, 26 August

    Thank you!

  • Robert Lamparek
    Posted at 03:00h, 26 August

    Love Spicy! Great info!

  • Stacy Borror
    Posted at 00:06h, 26 August

    good read

  • Tina Morris
    Posted at 22:16h, 25 August

    Thank you!

  • Korrie Bella
    Posted at 20:28h, 25 August

    I love spicy food! Awesome info, Thanks

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