Me, I like it hot. You name it, I'll sprinkle a little hot sauce on it. I just like the taste (and the heat) but adding spice to your food can curb hunger, strengthen muscles, boost your brainpower and improve mood.
- Staying slender: A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that when women added 2 teaspoons of dried red pepper on their food, they consumed fewer calories and fat in later meals. Give your diet a light start; splash hot sauce on your morning omelet.
- Becoming stronger: The curcumin that turns turmeric yellow also helps reduce inflammation and aids muscle repair after heavy exercise, researchers at the University of South Carolina at Columbia say. Enjoy the Indian spice for a few days before a big workout (try stirring it in a cup of lowfat cottage cheese and sliced fruit) to speed recovery.
- Keeping sharp: Curcumin also sweeps out plaque deposits in your brain, which may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, research from the University of California at Los Angeles suggests. For a savory meal, dust curry spices over rice and beans.
- Getting happy: Capsaicin (the compound that gives chiles their kick) triggers pain receptors in the mouth, in turn signaling your brain to release feel-good endorphins, according to scientists at the State University of New York at Buffalo. That chemical surge not only helps dull the pepper’s bite, but it also betters your mood. Next time you need a quick lift, toss red pepper flakes or some diced chile peppers into your salad or bowl of chilled soup. Now that’s cool!