7 Ways Eating Spicy Foods Actually Makes You Healthier

Once associated only with international cuisines, spicy chiles and other tongue-tingling ingredients now grace the menus of nearly every type of restaurant in the U.S. Even fast food joints have joined the trend, including Wendy’s. It might seem gimmicky, but these eateries are just responding to a growing desire for spicy foods.

While drive-through meals certainly aren’t great for your figure, the spicy ingredients they use are actually pretty smart additions to your regular foods. And it’s not just because of the burning sensation so many have grown to love — hot chiles offer some surprising health advantages. Read on to learn about seven ways adding a little spice to your cooking can keep you in fighting form.

1. They give your metabolism a boost

Red hot chilies, cayenne

Who doesn’t want a faster metabolism? | iStock.com

Everyone wants to find ways to boost their metabolism once it tops out during their 20s. Some folks look to lifting weights and others swear by eating small meals throughout the day to keep unwanted pounds off. A dash of cayenne could also do the trick. The key player is capsaicin, the compound responsible for the incendiary quality we associate with chiles. According to a small 2013 study sponsored by McCormick, subjects experienced a boost in metabolism when a dose of capsaicin was added to their meals.

Though spicy foods may aid your ability to lose weight, it’s not an excuse to let your diet slide. The effect seems to be temporary, so you would have to constantly be eating chiles in order to maintain that level of burn. The amount is also important. A 2012 review showed larger doses of capsaicin give you the most benefit, but it’s not realistic to set your mouth on fire constantly in the hopes of smaller waist. Yes, you can enjoy a metabolic boost, but it’s a pretty modest change.

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