Have you ever wondered why some people ‘torment’ themselves by eating spicy food? You’re not alone! I used to wonder too, even worse I despised people who cooked unbearably spicy food, because I found it impossible to eat. My mom didn’t like spicy food so I was not introduced to it from a young age.
I started craving spicy food during pregnancy and since then I got hooked! Yes. I’m now unashamedly one of those people who likes it better when it’s flaming hot. That goes to show that a love for spicy food can be developed or acquired over time as people are not born with the affinity to love spicy food. My husband could not stand spicy food when I met him, but after I gradually introduced it to our meals not only did he get used to it, he now loves it far more than me. He even adds hot sauce to his breakfast!
People from some continents such as Africa and Asia seem to have a naturally higher tolerance for hot foods -- they’ve been eating them from a very young age. Once you start adding hot peppers to your food, capsaicin and other spicy food molecules deplete a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain signals to the brain.
Whether your love for hot peppers is acquired or as a result of your thrill seeking nature, you would be pleased to know that it is actually good for you!
There are several reasons why you should continue with your chilli obsession, here are my top 5;
1. Promotes weight loss
Spicy peppers revs up the metabolic rate by generating the thermogenic processes in our body that generates heat.
That process utilizes energy, and thereby, burns additional calories. In addition, if hot peppers are consumed at breakfast, the appetite is suppressed the rest of the day which ultimately helps in weight loss.
It may even alter proteins in your body to combat fat accumulation.
Capsaicin also has been studied as a holistic method to for weight loss. It will selectively destroy nerve fibres that send messages from the stomach to the brain.
2. Fights the Flu, Colds and Fungal Infections
Hot peppers are chalked full of beta carotene and antioxidants that support your immune system and will aid in fighting off colds and the flu.
Research has found that nasal sprays containing capsaicin reduce congestion. Increased body temperature from the ingestion of hot peppers triggers the immune system into action in fighting the norovirus (cold), flu viruses.
Consumption of peppers fights against 16 fungal strains by reducing fungal pathogens.
3. Keeps Your Hair and Skin Healthy
The vitamin C in chili peppers does not just strengthen your immune system. It also creates and maintains collagen, which is a key protein found in healthy hair and skin. Specifically, cayenne pepper is a great natural ingredient that can add some spice to a beauty routine.
Cayenne pepper can be mixed into a face mask to deal with skin inflammation. It can also treat wrinkles, acne scars, and dark spots. Cayenne pepper is able to do this because it essentially stimulates blood flow which leads to flawless skin.
Mixed with olive oil, cayenne pepper can also make a great hair mask to bring some lustre and shine to your hair.
4. May Improve Longevity
A study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences discovered that people who consume spicy food have a better chance of having a longer life. In other words, common spices have the potential to increase a person’s chance to live a longer, healthy life.
Over the course of seven years, the researchers found that individuals who ate spicy foods three to seven times a week has a smaller chance of experiencing cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.
This can be credited to capsaicin’s ability to reduce inflammation, clear the respiratory tract, and overall reduce the development of lifelong diseases.
5. Supports Cardiovascular Health
Chili peppers can also be a great, natural way to support your cardiovascular system and prevent heart disease. Chili peppers are high in potassium, which is a mineral with a number of functions in the human body.
Potassium combined with folate can reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Moreover, potassium can help relax your blood vessels, which makes blood flow much easier on your body.
Chili peppers also contain riboflavin and niacin. The latter is responsible for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and in turn, lower the risk for heart disease. Chili peppers can also protect fats in your blood against free radicals.
For example, one study found that eating fresh chili increased the resistance of blood fats to oxidation, which is free radical damage to your triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
If I've managed to convince you to join the spice lovers club, you're welcome!
You might want to begin with peppers with a more tolerable zing, add some red pepper flakes to your stir fry or some chopped Jalapeño peppers to your salad. And yes, you would still get the health benefits!