Isn’t it time you got a little spice into your life, or at least into your kitchen? Whether you’re a fan of spicy foods, or a little bit nervous to try, there are a world of benefits to embracing these foods in the coming year.
We’re not just talking about hot peppers, either. While these do have an immense amount of benefits, other spicy foods, such as wasabi and turmeric, should not be forgotten. All of these foods can be easily incorporated into your meals for the betterment of your health.
So, how can spicy foods help you feel your best? The following are just 13 of the many reasons:
A wealth of antioxidants
Many spicy foods, including hot peppers, wasabi, turmeric and cumin, are loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidant-rich foods help to combat oxidative stress in the body, which if left unchecked can lead to many chronic ailments, as well as premature aging.
Hot peppers are linked to improving circulation and clearing arterial blockages. They may also help to lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, and stabilize blood pressure – all of which are essential for a properly-functioning cardiovascular system.
Help prevent blood clots
Wasabi – considering it is real wasabi root and not the processed green sauce – is linked to preventing the formation of blood clots. This may help to prevent heart attacks and strokes from rearing their ugly heads.
Optimal eye health
Hot peppers, especially those that come in yellow, orange and red hues, contain a wealth of carotenoid antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are linked to protecting your eyes, including lowering your risk of developing cataracts or age-related macular degeneration.
Reduced allergy symptoms
Capsaicin is associated with helping to calm allergy symptoms. This is likely due to its ability to clear congestion and thin mucus, and is also thanks to its anti-inflammatory nature.
Turmeric, the fragrant yellow spice found in many curries, can provide significant benefits to the immune system. This spice has potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, and has been found to be an even stronger immune system booster than vitamins C and E.
Spicy peppers contain a compound known as capsaicin. When capsaicin enters the body, the body sends out a rush of endorphins in response to the heat, which naturally works to combat pain. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, capsaicin has been used successfully to help ease the pain of arthritis, neuropathy and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
A boost in the bedroom?
One traditional use of spicy peppers is as an aphrodisiac. The capsaicin that they contain, along with helping to relieve pain, is associated with promoting pleasure. This is likely because they incite a rush of endorphins, and increase circulation throughout the body.
Rev up your metabolism
If you’re looking to get the most out of your workout, add some hot peppers to your meals. One of the many functions of capsaicin is speeding up the metabolism.
Capsaicin has been used for centuries to help clear congestion and ease cold symptoms. This is because this compound naturally thins mucus, and reduces inflammation. Try adding half a teaspoon of organic cayenne pepper to a cup of hot herbal tea – or less if this is too spicy to handle. You can always work your way up to more.
Banish nasty bacteria
If you’ve come down with a cold or flu, try adding some real wasabi to a soup, salad or even smoothie. It has potent antimicrobial properties which can help nix the bug and get you feeling better quickly.
The capsaicin found in hot peppers may help to repair the stomach lining, as well as ease gas and abdominal cramping. It may even help to heal stomach ulcers in some cases, although you should talk to your doctor before using hot peppers for this purpose.
Wasabi can also help aid digestion – it is traditionally used to help relieve diarrhea.
Help ward off cancer
The curcumin found in turmeric and cumin has been linked to exciting cancer-fighting potential. The capsaicin in spicy peppers has also been linked to anticarcinogenic properties, especially in the case of prostate cancer.
With 2015 just around the corner, now is the time to turn up the heat!
-The Alternative Daily