South Africans, and Durbanites in particular, are known for their soft spot for spicy foods. For one reason or another, so many of us Saffers just can’t get enough of enduring a good, hot curry. One theory is that spicy foods contain an array of health benefits, so our body craves it. Here are five reasons why spicy food is considered healthy and inevitably a good meal choice.
- Weight Loss: We all know how boring diet food can be, almost to the point that we just can’t stick to our diet. By simply adding some sliced jalapeno to your salad or meal, you can turn it right around, taste wise. An added benefit is that it also boosts your metabolism by causing a thermogenic effect – quite simply – it burns those dreaded calories!
- Healthy Heart: Studies show that cultures that consume more chillies and spicy foods have a history of fewer heart attacks and strokes. Research shows that capsaicin (found in chillies and peppers) lowers blood cholesterol levels and blocks a gene that makes arteries contract which can be responsible for heart attacks or strokes. Basically, spicy foods save lives!
- Cancer Prevention: Turmeric has been associated with slowing and even preventing the growth of tumours and spread of cancer. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to even kill some cancer and leukemic cells. To dramatically increase the absorption of turmeric (up to 2,000 percent), pair it with black pepper, for a more potent effect.
- Lower Blood Pressure: The heat from peppers increases blood flow throughout your body, with vitamins A and C strengthening the heart muscle walls. All of this improves the cardiovascular system.
- Feel-good hormones: Spicy foods have the ability to boost production of the hormone, serotonin. Serotonin can help to ease stress and depression.
Not a fan of super spicy food? You can still reap the health benefits by adding spices with a more tolerable zing to your dishes. What about a bit of sliced ginger in a cup of tea? Or how about adding red pepper flakes to your stir-fry or whipping up a deliciously mild chicken curry?
This is a hot topic. Give us your feedback – do you like it hot, or not-so-hot? Any tips for sneaking spice into your favourite dishes?