Spicy foods may keep your heart healthy – People who eat red chili peppers have been shown to have lower levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol because it increases the risk of heart disease. Recent research found that consuming these peppers is associated with a 13 percent lower incidence of deaths from heart disease and stroke.
Spicy foods may kick start your metabolism – There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain. “Inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, genetics, age, or certain medications all can play a role,” said Dr. Millstein. Capsaicin may help boost your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories both at rest and during exercise, meaning you might be able to lose weight more easily.
Spicy foods may be an effective pain reliever – If you’ve ever bitten into a chili pepper, you’re probably familiar with the burning sensation that follows. When you apply that same sensation to the nerves on your hands and feet, it can make those nerves lose their feeling for extended periods of time, which relieves pain. When used as a lotion or other topical cream, capsaicin causes a slight feeling of heat, stinging and itching. “Over time, the nerves in your hands and feet will grow accustomed to the lotion and will have a lower ability to process pain. This can help with conditions such as arthritis and injuries.
Spicy foods may reduce inflammation and promote gut health – Your taste buds and your gut may be more connected than you think. When you bite into a pepper, the capsaicin attaches to a receptor that communicates with other cells. That communication causes a nerve on your tongue to immediately tell your brain that it’s hot. That same receptor is found in your digestive tract. When capsaicin enters your digestive tract and attaches to the receptor, it creates a chemical called anandamide. Anandamide has been shown to lead to less inflammation in the gut, which can be caused by conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
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