A hot curry on a winter’s day, a dash of cayenne pepper on your avo and toast… spices are they key to enriching our food and satisfying our palette. For centuries, spices have been at the core of our dishes and also at our culture. Some countries define their identities in their spices; for example, India produces about 75 of the 109 varieties of spices listed by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO). On the other end of the spectrum, Italy use a variety of green herbs, such as sage, basil and rosemary. Spices are at the core of identity and flavour.
Not only do spices define our identities, they also have a world of health benefits. Today, we’ll be focusing on hot spices. How the heat of a chilli and gentle burn of a pepper can actually contribute to our internal, overall health. Here are just five ways you can benefit from sprinkling some chilli flakes over your next meal.
Spicy foods can massively help with weight loss. The chemicals found in spice can increase the heat of your core internal temperate, thereby increasing your metabolism by up to five percent. Studies have shown that people consumed roughly 75 calories less by adding spice to a meal than if they’d left if bland.
Helps with Depression
Perhaps the most surprising of statistics is that consuming spices can help with depression. The science behind this is that when the body detects pain, it releases endorphins. As the heating sensation from consuming spices can sometimes be uncomfortable, the body mistakes it for pain. Therefore, releasing endorphins. So, if you’re having a particularly bad day, why not try cooking yourself a spicy dish?
This is perhaps a more obvious one, but spices can help with digestion. The chemicals increase digestive fluids in the stomach which helps speeds up the digestion process. (Which is why you should never have too much of one thing…)
Helps prevent Cancer
The chemicals in spices can help prevent cancer by working as an antioxidant. This means it can protect the body’s healthy cells from harmful molecules that cause cancer. These molecules are best known as Free Radicals.
Helps prevent Heart Disease
Last but not least, spicy foods can help protect against heart disease. Chilli peppers can do this by reducing the damaging effects of bad cholesterol. Furthermore, the chemicals in spices can reduce inflammation which is at the heart of most illnesses. Not only do the chemicals aid in heart health, so do the vitamins. Spicy herbs contain vitamins A and C which can help strengthen the heart muscle walls. The heat can increase the blood flow which can lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.
So, what are you waiting for? Get down to your local supermarket and scour the spice rack. Stay warm and healthy this winter.