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5 reasons to spice up your life

From earthy and flavourful to zesty and hot, spices are the perfect accessory to any meal.

A sprinkle here and a shake there and a fragrant spice can instantly transform your culinary creations from bland to brilliant. And it turns out that spicing up your meals can do a whole lot more than just excite your taste buds. Below are 5 reasons to get spice happy.

1. Spices could help you to live longer

According to a new study, spicy food intake is now linked to a longer life . Researchers found that those who ate spicy foods almost every day had a 14% lower risk of death, compared to people who rarely added heat to their food. The study authors suggest that more research still needs to be done so watch this space.

2. Spicy food makes you happy

Eating spicy food can boost production of serotonin and encourage the release of feel-good endorphins, which produce a sense of wellbeing. One spice in particular, turmeric, has been shown to be effective in treating low-moods. In the 2014 study, its active compound, curcumin, was shown to improve several mood-related symptoms. Instead of reaching for something sugary, try a little chilli pepper or root ginger the next time you’re in need of a mood boost.

3. Spicy food can help you breathe

Whether you’re battling with a cold or suffering from allergies, eating something spicy can help relieve that bunged up feeling by clearing your sinuses. In a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, people with congestion, sinus pain and sinus pressure were given a spray made with capsaicin – the active compound in hot peppers. The subjects said they felt relief of their symptoms in under a minute.

4. Spicy foods may help you lose weight

According to a 2011 study in the journal Physiology & Behaviour, eating spicy foods can help rev your metabolism. In the study, those who consumed cayenne pepper burned more calories than those that didn’t and many also reported feeling less hungry and experiencing fewer cravings for salty, fatty and sweet foods.

Cumin has been linked to weight loss too. In the Shahid University study, women that consumed about one teaspoon of cumin every day lost an extra 3 pounds of weight and dropped about 15% of their body fat collectively - nearly triple the 5% loss in the non-cumin group.

5. Spicy food can provide pain relief

Capsaicin is not only a potent anti-inflammatory, which is useful for many types of pain, but also it provides pain relief by depleting your body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain. It also works by de-sensitizing sensory receptors in your skin. In one 2014 study published in the journal Pain Physician a man with persistent pain due to wounds from bomb explosion experienced an 80 percent reduction in pain symptoms after using an 8% capsaicin patch.

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