Spicy foods can delight your taste buds, but they can also do more than just please your palate. Research has found they may positively impact your health, from your metabolism to your heart. Spicy foods alone won’t improve your health; however, when you pair them with a healthy diet and exercise, you may experience some of the following benefits.

The benefits of spice

Some spicy foods, such as chili peppers like cayenne, habanero, and jalapeño, contain capsaicin. Many health benefits are derived from capsaicin, including muscle and arthritis pain relief, and fiery foods may also help you rejuvenate your weight loss. An analysis of twenty trials found that foods with capsaicin can help reduce appetite and increase energy expenditure, and research conducted by Purdue University discovered that eating red cayenne pepper daily helped curb hunger. In addition, capsaicin has anti-inflammatory properties that can boost heart health by reducing plaque buildup in blood vessel walls. It may even help you live longer. A study from Harvard University published in The BMJ found that individuals who eat spicy foods six or seven days per week had a 14 percent chance of living longer than those who eat them less than once a week.

Proceed with caution

While spicy foods can positively impact your health, you should consult with your doctor before adding an influx of heat to your diet. If you suffer from issues such as heartburn, acid reflux, or irritable bowel syndrome, eating such foods may worsen symptoms. Also, handling food like chili peppers can leave oil on your skin that can irritate sensitive parts of the body, such as your lips or eyes. Wear gloves while cooking with hot peppers, and use dish soap to remove the oil from your hands after touching these foods.

Adding spicy foods to your diet

Are you ready to kick up the spice in your food? Use these tips to help increase the temperature of your cuisine cautiously, and consult your doctor beforehand if you have any concerns.

  • Start with small amounts of seasoning.
  • Work your way up the spice scale slowly.
  • Serve spicy foods with starchy foods such as rice, a tortilla, or crusty bread.
  • If need be, drink milk or add sour cream or dairy to your meal to cool down spicy foods.
  • Stop eating them if the heat causes discomfort.