Swellness Blog


The Benefits of Eating Spicy Foods

nutrition Mar 04, 2024
benefits  of eating spicy foods

Photo by Mark Stebnicki

Spicy foods aren’t just packed full of flavor, they’re packed full of goodness, too. If you’re looking for ways to nourish your body and support an active lifestyle, a chili-laden dish, curry, or spicy salad is an excellent addition to your diet.

If you’re wondering what a little bit of heat can do for you, keep reading. We’ve covered all the benefits of eating spicy food, from weight management to a boosted immune system.

Improved Metabolism

Your metabolic rate is the amount of energy your body needs to sustain a good balance. It powers your body’s cells by turning food into energy. 

Spicy foods such as chili and capsicums all contain capsaicin. This wonderful compound is responsible for the heat that you enjoy with every mouthful. Capsaicin has been linked to an increase in metabolic rates, and the faster your metabolism, the more calories your body is using.  

Enhanced Weight Management

Piggybacking on an improved metabolism is weight management, as the faster your metabolism, the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight. The increase in metabolic function from certain spices makes managing your weight easier as your body uses more energy on average, particularly during exercise. 

A further benefit of eating spicy foods is that they can leave you feeling more satiated. By feeling more satisfied, you may find your cravings for sweet and fatty foods diminish, which will decrease your calorie intake. 

A Healthier Heart

If you’re looking for an all-natural way to look after your heart, the good news is that capsaicin may have cardiovascular benefits. It can lower blood pressure as it widens the vascular network (vasodilation) and relaxes the arteries, allowing blood to flow through the body freely.

In turn, it can reduce bad cholesterol levels known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Additionally, some studies show that it promotes good cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which helps transport excess cholesterol away from the arteries. 

All of these benefits take the strain off your heart and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long term. 

Pain Relief

Analgesic properties have been found in capsaicin, which is commonly used in topical creams or ointments. These products are used as a mild pain alleviation for anyone suffering from conditions such as arthritis and neuropathy.

Consuming spicy food encourages the release of endorphins, which can reduce the perceived pain. There is also a theory that by consuming spicy foods, you can reduce the perception of pain as capsaicin activates certain nerve fibres. 

Just beware of spicy foods during menstruation, as although they may offer pain relief, they can aggravate period cramps, cause diarrhea and nausea, and increase bloating. 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is linked to a few chronic health conditions, and it’s something many women suffer from due to the numerous hormonal changes we go through during our lives. Fortunately, some spices, such as turmeric and ginger, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and make a wonderful addition to numerous dishes, smoothies, and even teas!

Mood Boost

Sometimes, you may find yourself coming off the back of a long and difficult week. The good news is that certain spicy foods have mood-boosting properties that will make you feel happier and less sluggish. 

A little bit of heat can activate the release of endorphins, and these feel-good hormones can lead to an improved mood or simply put your mind at ease. Similar to the smell of freshly baked cookies, spicy foods can activate the pleasure centre of the brain—only without the sugar and carbs.  

Increased Nutrition

Spicy foods are the global village of the nutrition world as they contain a rich nutrient diversity. Chili peppers are packed full of various antioxidants and vitamin C that support the production of collagen and aid with the absorption of other nutrients. Antioxidants also contribute to cell renewal and blocking damage caused by free radicals that damage DNA.

These types of foods provide an array of nutrients, particularly in curries that contain ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, and coriander. Other ingredients, like legumes and vegetables, usually found in these dishes, provide a great source of fibre for our bodies and add to a balanced diet.

Better Skin Health

Great skin comes from within, although using good quality products certainly helps you get that glow. Once again, chili comes to the rescue, as studies on capsaicin show it can play a vital role in the prevention of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Additionally, as it has so many health and immunity benefits, chilies keep you healthy from the inside out, which shows in your skin.

Immunity Boost

A stuffy head and blocked nose aren’t just unpleasant, they can put a halt to your active lifestyle while you recover. However, if you eat spicy food regularly, your immune system will enjoy an all-natural boost.

Chilis are loaded with vitamins A and C, and if they’re green, they can even combat microbial infections. What’s more, the heat of capsaicin clears up phlegm and relieves congestion, so you’ll feel less blocked up if you’re suffering from a dreaded cold.

Cancer Prevention

Some studies have shown that capsaicin has potentially reduced the risk of cancer in some patients and suppressed the spread of certain cancers. Additionally, it can reduce the side effects of the disease, not just with treatments like chemotherapy. 

Digestion Improvement

Common spices like cumin and ginger are nature's helpers if you suffer from indigestion, bloating, and other digestive issues. The spices can encourage the production of saliva and digestive enzymes, which encourages the body to break down and absorb nutrients in the digestive tract. 

If you regularly eat pickles, your digestive tract will also benefit. Pickles act as prebiotics as they’re high in particular types of fibre that feed good gut bacteria. Plus, as these spicy and sweet cucumbers are fermented, they aid digestion and can alleviate the symptoms of diarrhea and constipation. 

A Spicy Way To Stay Healthy

If you are a fan of all things spicy, you’re doing your body a favor every time you eat a dish with a bit of heat. There’s a whole lot of goodness in every bite of spicy food, and you can enjoy the benefits as part of a holistic approach to health, wellness, and well-being.