8 Reasons To Add Some Spice To Your Diet

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Spice-Image-Design-1What makes your food so delicious? Sure, there are the natural flavors of the basic ingredients: potatoes, meat, chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, noodles, rice, and the list goes on. All of these foods are delightful on their own, but when you add spice to the dish, things suddenly turn magical!

Think about it:

  • Potatoes are fairly bland alone, but add salt, herbs, and a delicious truffle oil, and you have five-star French fries!
  • Tomatoes are fresh and juicy, but stew them with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and basil, and you have an enchanting marinara or Bolognese sauce!
  • Lamb is a very flavorful meat, but add in turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, and a dozen other spices, and you get the most exotic Indian curry!

The truth is that spices make your dishes SO much more enjoyable. It’s hard to imagine cooking without the spice of some sort. Whether it’s black pepper to bring out the meaty flavors, chili pepper to give your food an earthy taste, or curry powder to bring out the savory delight of meat, spices is a must-have in every meal.

But did you know that spices are more than just delicious? They can do amazing things for your body, health, and weight loss. You’ll find that adding a bit of spice to your diet is ALWAYS the smart way to go. Why is that?

Spice is Satiating

dried herbs, spices and and pepper, on wooden background

Take a moment to think about the last truly satisfying meal you ate: was it a bland, tasteless meal, or one with plenty of vibrant, rich flavors? I’m willing to bet ALL THE MONEY that it fell squarely into the latter category!

Spices (and herbs) extend your palette and make your food more delicious, but they eliminate the need for sauces and condiments. A well-spiced plate of food can be eaten on its own, whereas bland foods have to be slathered in the sauce just to be edible.

But did you know that spices are satiating as well as satisfying? Liberally-spiced foods produce a wide variety of sensations on your taste buds, giving your mouth an experience as you eat. Your brain can be happy with far less food, thanks to the rich flavors it’s enjoying with every bite.

Having a hard time controlling your appetite and keeping your food intake in check? Stop cooking simple food, but start being a bit more liberal with the spices. Search for recipes that are both spicy and spice-heavy. You’ll enjoy every bite more, and you’ll be happier with less food–meaning you’ll get up from the table sooner!

Spice is Heart-Smart

There are SO MANY spices that can do awesome things for the health of your heart!

Turmeric can help to reduce low-grade inflammation, one of the primary contributors to heart disease.  It can also reverse heart disease and prevent the hardening of plaque on your arterial walls.

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, the compound that gives them their natural “kick”. This compound can help to combat cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease.

Herbs and spices will do wonders for your heart, so they’re a beautiful addition to your diet.

Delicious portion of fresh salmon fillet with aromatic herbs,

Best of all, you don’t have to eat VERY spicy to obtain the heart benefits. Even just a small dosage of these spices can work their magic on your heart, reduce inflammation, fight cholesterol, and prevent arterial hardening. The result: a healthier heart, and a healthier you!

Spice is Metabolism-Boosting

We’ve established that spices can help you to eat less, but did you know they can help your body to BURN MORE?

Capsaicin (the compound from chili peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapenos, and other spicy peppers) can trigger beneficial protein changes in the human body, encouraging the body to go from “fat storing” mode to “muscle building” mode. It takes energy to turn protein into ATP energy for building muscle, so your body has to burn more calories to produce the energy.

At the same time, the spice will help to shrink fat tissue, reducing the amount of fat your body can store. This leads to not only weight loss, but specifically FAT BURNING. You’ll find that spice will help to kick your body into fat-burning mode, leading to more effective weight loss in the long term.

chicken salad

Spice is Digestion-Friendly

I grew up eating spicy food, and I was always told “Eating that much spice will give you an ulcer!” Now, I know the truth: it takes A LOT (like crazy, inhuman amounts) of spice to give you an ulcer, but human quantities of spice can improve your digestion.

There is a risk that spicy food will irritate your digestive tract. This is a common problem among those with IBS and other similar digestive disorders. However, for the average person, spices are GOOD for your digestive tract.

Why is that?

Spices help to encourage stomach acid production. This means your body is better-able to break down the food you eat, leading to better digestion. Excessive acid production can lead to GERD/Acid Reflux, but for most people, spices are perfectly safe.

Spices can kick bacterial butt. Spices–capsaicin, in particular–can inhibit the growth of the H. pylori bacteria that is responsible for your stomach ulcers. By stopping the bacteria in its tracks, the spices prevent ulcers!

Spices can reduce pain. We all know that spices have a terrible burning effect on your tongue. But have you ever noticed how you could eat a lot hotter food once the burn dies down? This is because the burning sensation is followed by a numbing of the nerve endings. It can reduce pain not just in your mouth, but in your entire digestive system.

Yes, we’ve all had those times when every trip to the bathroom felt like agony, but that’s the fault of TOO MUCH spicy food. Eat spices in moderation, and it can improve your digestion.

Homemade Lemon and Herb Chicken

Spice Cranks Up the Temperature

This is one of the best things about the spicy food!

Have you ever noticed that you start to sweat after eating a very spicy pepper or something with a lot of cayenne pepper? No, this has nothing to do with the nervous fear of the burning in your mouth. Instead, it’s the thermogenic effect of the chili pepper.

“Thermogenic” literally means “tending to produce heat”, and it’s applied to chili peppers thanks to the fact that they crank up your internal thermostat. When you eat spicy foods, your body turn up the heat to burn fuel (like fat and sugar). This leads to an increase in calorie-burning. Best of all, a lot of the calories burned come from fat.

On a normal day, it takes your body a lot of work to activate stored fat to produce energy. It’s usually easier for your body to simply burn the sugar available in your bloodstream, as it’s more available and requires less energy to turn into energy (sounds crazy, but that’s the way the body works).

However, when your internal temperature rises, it puts your body into a “fat-burning state”. The heat helps to activate the fatty cells stored around your body (here’s looking at you, beer belly!), making it easier for your body to turn it into a form of energy that can be used by your brain, eyes, heart, muscles, organs, and internal systems.

THAT is what makes spicy food such an awesome addition to your diet! By cranking up the heat, you boost your metabolism and put your body in fat-burning mode. The result: better weight loss, but specifically better FAT loss.

Warm Chicken Salad

Spice Fights Cancer

Nature has provided remedies for just about every disease on the planet. And that includes cancer!

There are some spices that can help to reduce the risk of cancer, inhibit the growth of tumor cells, and even prevent existing cancers from spreading. There’s no “magic bullet” to deal with cancer, but check out the cancer-fighting benefits of these spices:

Turmeric. Turmeric is rich in curcumin, a potent antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and starve cancer cells to death. Curcumin inhibits the flow of blood to the cancer cells (via the network of blood vessels that feed cancer). This deprives the cancer of oxygen and nutrients, killing off the cancer cells.

Black Pepper. It’s more than just the best spice to add to your dishes, it’s also loaded with an antioxidant known as piperine. Piperine can inhibit the growth of the stem cells that cause breast tumors to form. Best of all, it suppresses the cancer cell growth WITHOUT affecting the healthy cells.

Ginger. Yet another awesome spice, ginger is an anti-inflammatory food that is also loaded with anti-cancer antioxidants.

Cayenne Pepper. Once again, capsaicin comes to the rescue! Studies have shown that capsaicin can kill off cancer cells. The spicy compound can stifle the growth of tumor cells, and may even be able to eliminate the cells altogether. It’s mostly effective for prostate cancer, but there’s potential for it to help deal with a wide range of carcinogens.

Eating spicy is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer as you age. Add spicy food to a healthy lifestyle, a natural diet, elimination of unhealthy foods, and plenty of exercises, and your chances of living longer just skyrocketed!

Spice Manages Diabetes

There are a lot of spices that can help you to manage your diabetes. Not only will they help to reduce blood sugar levels, but they can also increase insulin sensitivity and prevent insulin spikes/crashes. Here are a few of the spices to add to your diabetes diet:

Cinnamon.  This spice helps to lower blood sugar levels, though it will not improve insulin resistance or combat fasting blood sugar levels. It is, however, a good addition to your desserts. It can counteract the effects of sweet treats and prevent them from causing a blood sugar spike.

Cumin. This spice can affect both your blood sugar AND cholesterol levels. Even just a pinch or two of the spice in your meals can help to improve your blood glucose control.

Ginger. A study found that patients who drank ginger tea for 30 days saw a 17% reduction in their blood glucose levels, along with similar reductions in harmful cholesterol.

Chili peppers. For those with diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain caused by diabetes), capsaicin can be the perfect remedy. A Canadian study discovered that injecting mice with capsaicin helped to reduce malfunctioning pain neurons.

If you want to lead a happier, healthier life despite your diabetes diagnosis, add more spice to your diet and reap the benefits.

Spice Boosts Your Mood

Did you know that people who eat spicy foods are happier than those who don’t?

Turmeric can boost your mood, thanks to the fact that it can boost the production of norepinephrine. This neurochemical supports not just a positive mood, but it plays a role in learning, attention, memory, sleep, and dreaming. Curcumin, the antioxidant in turmeric, can also increase serotonin and dopamine levels.

Doctors agree that eating spicy releases endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals that can relieve pain and induce a euphoric feeling. Chili peppers release capsaicinoids, which causes the burning sensation in your mouth. Your body reacts by producing endorphins to counteract the pain. The result: a boost in your mood that can last for up to an hour after eating.

If you want to be happier, why not add more spice to your diet? Your food will be tastier, and you’ll notice a change in your mood as well!

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