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One Tip for a Healthier Diet: Spice It Up!

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Sometimes as they age, people cut back on spicy foods. Turns out that could be a mistake, according to a recent article on the website This article lists at least five proven health benefits of spicy foods – some of which may surprise you. Click here to read this entertaining and tasty article.

The benefits of spicy foods come from hot peppers such as jalapeño and chilis which are rich in a compound called capsaicin. According to Dr. Cary Presant from City of Hope Hospital in California, quoted in the article, capsaicin not only helps in relieving pain but it can also aid the immune system and even boost longevity. Another spice to consider adding: turmeric, commonly used in Indian foods such as curries. The ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, has actually been shown to reduce inflammation and even prevent cancer.

The first of the five benefits listed in the article is one that should be of interest to most of us: weight loss. Eating hot peppers increases body heat which can boost your metabolism, so you actually burn calories more quickly. Another related benefit: a research study from Purdue University shows that eating spicy foods actually reduces your appetite so you eat less.

A second benefit of hot peppers is the reduction of heart disease. Capsaicin dilates the blood vessels, thus aiding circulation, and also helps prevent blood clots. Turmeric appears to help reduce cholesterol and even reverse blood vessel damage. In other words, a little spice does the heart good, it seems!

The third benefit listed is longevity. This surprising claim is drawn from a joint Chinese and American study of 500,ooo participants in China which found that people who ate spicy foods multiple times each week reduced their risk of premature death by 14%.

As mentioned above, the fourth benefit is cancer prevention. “Curcumin has astonishing effects in cancer cells,” the article quotes Dr. Cary Presant from City of Hope. “There is good laboratory evidence that it works in reducing the growth of cancer cells and preventing them as well.” Among the cancers that capsaicin and curcumin help combat: breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer.

Finally, the article states that the compounds in spicy foods can help with pain relief. Many ointments that reduce the pain of arthritis or other inflammation of the joints contain capsaicin, which has been proven to be effective in pain reduction.

How much spicy food should you eat, and how often? The article gives some good guidelines and also suggests how to incorporate these helpful compounds into your diet even if you have a sensitive digestive system. (A hint: cooking or sauteeing peppers makes them more palatable but doesn’t rob them of their health benefits.) And one more note: black pepper isn’t the same as red pepper. And red bell peppers aren’t the same either: no capsaicin.

At Aging Options we want to be your guide as you plan for a healthy retirement. What’s the best way to begin? We invite you to attend one of our LifePlanning Seminars where we’ll provide a blueprint for a retirement plan that covers all the key aspects: health, finances, housing, legal affairs and family relationships. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website and you’ll find all the dates and times of seminars in your area. We’ll look forward to meeting with you soon!

(Originally reported at

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