For the love of heat

Spicy food more often than not is the gourmand daredevil’s lifestyle choice. Whether it is the sweat-inducing Habaneros, the grim and scorching Carolina Reaper or the veritable fire breathing Bhoot Jolokias, when it comes to the true aficionados of the ‘righteous hot’ the mouths don’t care about the math. Cultures across the globe have long preserved, hailed and cherished their secret spice mixes, those highly guarded marinades that elevate any meat to an ethereal context. However, despite the apparent appeal and legacy, spice and heat have held the insular fort  as one of the rarely explored crevices of the modern culinary world, our Michelin kitchens. One bland reason being the divided global palate and its diverse capacity to handle the heat. What, however gets lost in translation, is the many faceted health benefits that heat and chillies bring to our meals.  So, if you are in for a palate burning thrill ride here are a few other boxes you have been ticking.

WEIGHT LOSS:

While a chopped jalapeno or a squirt of sriracha can potentially bring alive the blandest plate of food, what’s reassuring is that it also keeps a tab on your weight. Chilies contain capsaicin as a main compound which increases digestive juices to heighten metabolism thereby keeping a check on the urge to overeat. Also, capsaicin has a thermogenic effect and may cause the body to burn bonus calories and oxidise layers of fat, post meal.

HEALTHY HEART:

WHO studies attested cardiovascular diseases as the leading global killer last year. Chilli peppers have been known to reduce the damaging effects of Low Density Lipoproteins while the capsaicin in them may check inflammation, which has been flagged as a risk factor for heart issues. So, your daily dose of hot and spicy can potentially reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

CANCER PREVENTION:

Research shows that capsaicin has the ability to contain certain carcinogenic and leukemic cells. A favourite go-to for spice lovers—the curry powder, contains turmeric and some mustard which may effectively slow the spread of cancer or growth of tumors. The heat of black pepper combined with these spices helps absorb 2,000 percent more turmeric, making it more potent.

LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE:

Eating chillies or hotter spices in measured portions increases blood flow thereby strengthening the cardiovascular system and the heart muscle walls

MOOD UPLIFTER:

Eating spicy foods effectively increases serotonin levels in the brain and releases endorphins.  So, in effect eating spicy food can put you in a good mood!

REDUCE ULCERS:

Contrary to popular beliefs, capsaicin in spicy food may actually be able to kill ulcer-causing bacteria. Though lacking in sufficient research backing, spicy food is known to reduce pain.

With these health benefits, adding spices and zing got a lot more legit! So if you are in two minds about sneaking in some spice in that plate of food, go on ahead.  Go on coat those prawns in cumin and coriander for a quick sauté; add red pepper flakes to that chicken stir-fry; crush some fresh black-pepper on that pan seared fillet; rest that Hilsa in a pungent mustard bath; give a delish peri-peri avatar to those Drums of Heaven!

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