Spicy foods can be found in most regions of the world. While cultures may differ, many nations share a love for hot sauces and hot foods and have adapted hot spices and chilies, like habanero or jalapeno peppers, into their national menus. Around the world one fact remains the same: It takes bravery to love spicy cooking zapped with hot sauce!
Spice up your life with spicy foods! Even the most calorie-restrictive diets can be enhanced with spicy low-fat chicken recipes or complex carbohydrate-rich rice recipes. Both rice and chicken recipes can be augmented with vegetables for color, texture, and flavor. Spicy cooking tends to mask the taste of nutrient-rich foods such as soy or spinach, so even if you don’t like these foods they can be added freely—reap their benefits without having to endure their flavors.
Hot = Health
Spicy cooking can have some unexpected health benefits. No longer is “hot spicy food” blamed for ulcers and other gastric ills. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. Many of the health benefits of spicy foods are being investigated by the medical and pharmaceutical communities—one of the hottest research areas at the beginning of the millennium, in fact. Meanwhile, the people of countries where spicy cooking is the norm have understood the preventive and curative benefits of these substances for hundreds of years.
|Spicy Food Remedies!
If you’re worried about the burning sensation in your mouth, be prepared. Starches, like rice, help to absorb capsaicin. And have plenty of lemons and limes on hand. Or, if you prefer, enjoy a good beer with your spicy foods.
Capsaicin is the source of the heat in hot peppers. It’s a colorless compound derived from plants of the genus Capsicum, which includes jalapeno peppers and habanero peppers. It also contributes to the heat in cayenne, chili pepper, and red pepper sauces.
The Health Benefits of Capsaicin
Capsaicin and substances that contain it are among the most studied of substances in medical, pharmaceutical, and nutrition research. Although many of the claims have not yet been substantiated by scientific research, some of these uses have been around for hundreds of years, and they seem to work for many, many people. Capsaicin:
- improves digestion by stimulating stomach secretions
- contains vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, and potassium
- lowers triglycerides
- has a laxative effect
- triggers the release of endorphins
- unclogs stuffy noses by irritating mucous membranes
- may reduce high blood pressure
- may protect against some forms of cancer.
And if that’s not enough, capsaicin also appears to increase your metabolic rate so you can burn more calories. This is an important finding for dieters. If you sprinkle cayenne pepper flakes on your low-fat pizza or soup, toss some sliced jalapeno peppers into your salad, or chop some habanero peppers into your turkey chili, you may be able to lose weight faster! You’ll also benefit from the other perks: lower triglycerides and great digestion.
|Diabetics Take Note!
Capsaicin contains vitamins A and C, and beta carotene. It’s low in fat, calories and cholesterol. If you thought your diabetic diet was supposed to be boring, try spicing up your cuisine with capsaicin-based products, like hot sauce or jalapeno peppers.
On the other side of the world, we have capsaicin’s distant cousin, turmeric. Turmeric—the main ingredient of curry powder—contains curcumin, which gives the curry powder its bright saffron yellow color.
This would be a good time to pull out your favorite curry chicken recipes! If you’re dieting or suffer from diabetes, you can get all the exciting flavor—and health benefits—of turmeric. Curry chicken recipes tend to be based on low fat, healthful ingredients. Cut out most fat and let the curry sauce do the magic. Serve it over rice. You can also adapt curry chicken recipes for your diet. If you feel adventurous, throw in a handful of raisins or top it with plain yogurt—more health benefits, more nutrition.
The Health Benefits of Turmeric
Like capsaicin, turmeric is the subject of many studies on the health benefits of spicy food, particularly because medical practitioners and researchers have observed unusually low rates of certain cancers among Asian people. Turmeric:
- increases your energy level
- relieves gas
- may relieve arthritis
- improves digestion
- may inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells (including colon cancer)
- lowers cholesterol.