Hot and spicy food gets a bad rap. For years, experts believed it caused stomach problems and worsened ulcers. The truth is that spicy food might actually protect the stomach lining if eaten in moderation. Hot foods such as red peppers can actually help your stomach produce less gastric acid. You might feel a burning after eating them, but this is only because you need to build tolerance. Either start with a milder mix or eat smaller amounts and then increase the intensity as your body gets used to the heat.
The question of whether spicy food can help with your weight-loss efforts is no longer debated. An early 1998 study by Laval University established that red pepper can increase your metabolism, causing your body to burn energy faster and more effectively. Research since then has confirmed this. Red pepper eases hunger pangs too, so it might be a good tool if you're trying to control your weight.
A 2007 study led by scientists from England's Nottingham University showed that curry might have cancer-fighting properties. Curry contains curcumin, a pigment that has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. The study showed the compound is especially useful in both fighting and preventing prostate cancer. The study also noted that prostate cancer is rare in India, where people eat curry regularly.
Eating spicy, hot food can help ease sinus congestion and relieve clogged nasal passages. Because it increases body temperature, it can also be effective in fighting fever and relieving flu symptoms. Hot peppers can help with respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis and asthma. It also acts as an expectorant.
Hot and spicy foods might help you in other ways. The heat from the food causes your brain to release feel-good endorphins. This is done to help your body fight the pain from the heat, but it might help improve your mood in the process. Experts believe hot spices such as curcumin could also reduce inflammation, raise your heart rate and help with pain relief.
- “Best Health”; Why Spicy Food is Good For You; Celia Milne; February 2010
- "The Washington Times"; Curry Fights Prostate Cancer, Study Finds; January 2006
- Slashfood; Spicy Food Is Good For You And Here's Why; Sarah J. Gim; June 2006
- Natural News; Study: Hot Chili Pepper Compound Kills Cancer; Jessica Fraser; January 2007
- Laval University; Effects of Red Pepper; Yoshioka M. et al.; 1998