"Hotter is healthier" say some. The people of countries where spicy cooking is the norm have understood the preventive and curative benefits of hot spices for hundreds of years. No longer is "hot spicy food" blamed for ulcers and other gastric ills – in fact, the opposite appears to be true although existing intestinal lesions may be sensitive, indicating an underlying problem that should generally be corrected before trying to use hot spices again.
Capsaicin is the source of the heat in hot peppers. It is a colorless compound derived from plants of the genus Capsicum, which includes jalapeno peppers and habanero peppers. It also contributes to the heat in cayenne, chili pepper and red pepper sauces.
A British study found that hot peppers boost the metabolic rate, which in turn burns extra calories. Losing excess pounds is as good for your health as it is for your vanity, since it reduces the risk of adult onset diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and a host of other ailments. This is an important finding for dieters and those with a low functioning thyroid gland or those who are especially susceptible to becoming cold. You may also benefit from lower triglycerides and improved digestion.
Capsicum can help prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots, acting as a natural blood thinner. Researchers in Thailand first noticed that people who consume large amounts of red chili peppers experienced a lower incidence of thromboembolism (potentially dangerous blood clots). Scientists then looked at the medical records of countries where hot spicy foods were regularly consumed, and found that people who eat a diet high in red peppers experience a much lower incidence of blood clotting diseases. Scientists have now concluded that capsicum does indeed possess fibrinolytic activity, meaning that it is able to break down blood clots.
More recent research has focused on this compound's ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and aid in controlling pain.
In countries where diets are traditionally high in capsaicin, the cancer death rates for men and women are significantly lower than they are in countries with less chili pepper consumption. Capsaicin has been found to preferentially inhibit the growth of cancer cells in laboratory studies.
You can increase your metabolism significantly by using hot and spicy foods such as hot peppers (of all varieties) and mustards. Research shows that these foods increase your metabolism. Try substituting mustard for mayonnaise and add hot peppers to your food for greater flavor and increased metabolism. Cayenne may promote weight loss in those with a low basal temperature.