by Marilyn Gemino

by Tracey Pollack

Some like it hot, especially when it comes to the foods they love. There’s no denying that hot and spicy foods have been heating up restaurant menus and supermarket aisles over the last few years, with more and more people getting a kick from foods with a kick. Now, research shows that fiery foods may also pack a punch for your health. Along with their zesty heat comes a variety of valuable health benefits. If you’re one of the many that can’t get enough of the heat, now you have more reasons than ever to spice things up with hot peppers and tangy spices like cumin, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. If you can’t stand the heat, get into the kitchen to add a subtle sizzle to meals by peppering veggies with red pepper flakes or steeping ginger in your tea. Check out these five reasons to start spicing up your life.

  1. Spicy Foods Are Hot for Your Heart

There’s a lot to love about spicy foods, but one good reason to embrace them is to help protect your heart. Research has shown that cultures that consume the most chili peppers have a lower incidence of heart attacks and strokes. That’s because these pungent peppers can lower your LDL cholesterol levels, which is known as the “bad” cholesterol, while raising your “good” HDL cholesterol levels. See, the chemical known as capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their heat, may help fight the inflammation that can lead to heart concerns. Plus, other spicy spices like turmeric, ginger and cumin possess powerful antioxidants, which can help prevent and control many cardiovascular issues.

  1. Hot Foods Help You Burn More Calories

Spicing up your meals can help heat up your weight loss efforts. Research showed that zesty peppers and spices may fire up your metabolism, which makes your body burn more calories during exercise and at rest. Then, their lingering heat can slow down your appetite to help control your hunger. Spicy flavors can also add zing to even the blandest “diet” foods, which can make them more appealing and help you stick to your healthy goals.

  1. Turn Up the Heat to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Did you know that eating more spicy foods can make you consume less salt? As a result, it easier to reduce your sodium intake, which will naturally lower your blood pressure. Credit goes to the capsaicin that is found in fiery peppers, which helps open up your blood vessels and increase your overall blood flow. The capsaicin also tricks your body into thinking you consumed more salt than you actually did, so you stop reaching for the saltshaker and those handfuls of potato chips. By simply replacing salt with spice, you’ll find it easier to lower both your sodium intake and blood pressure.

  1. Spice is Nice for Potentially Fighting Cancer

Are spicy foods the answer for cancer? According to the American Association for Cancer Research, the capsaicin found in hot peppers has the ability to destroy some cancer and leukemic cells. Along with the powerful promise of peppers, studies have shown that turmeric, which is a spice sprinkled in curry powders, may help slow the spread of cancer and growth of tumors. Evidence showed that turmeric may have the same effects as certain cancer drugs do.

Along with adding flavor to foods, eating hot peppers and zesty spices can help you improve and protect health without breaking a sweat.

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