New studies have found that consuming spicy foods can reduce cravings, and adding a little spice to your life may just be the tool you were looking for.
One of the things that affects our diet, and in this context also our health, in the most significant way is the way we deal with cravings. Even if we manage to get into a regimen of eating regular and healthy meals, sometime throughout the day we will crave a salty or sweet food that will lead us to the snack drawer, or the pastry area in the supermarket, where we find ourselves loading the cart with empty calories that cause obesity and increase disease risk. If you want to fight these cravings, there is some good news. New studies have found that consuming spicy foods can reduce cravings, and adding a little spice to your life may just be the tool you were looking for.
The surprising connection between spicy and salty foods
Salt is found in most of the foods we consume, even in those that look "quite innocent" like various pastries, cereals and some dairy products. Salt, or in its scientific name in the food industry - sodium chloride, is considered a common preservative and an ingredient that emphasizes the taste of various food products. In the Western world, salt overconsumption, which is predominantly derived from processed foods, has become a health epidemic that has been linked to the risk of developing hypertension, cardiovascular disease and leading to premature mortality from heart attacks, strokes and other related diseases. The health damage caused by excess salt intake is one that also affects our calorie intake and according to studies from recent years, a salt-saturated diet is one that directly causes obesity - so every gram of salt is important and affects our chances of being dangerously overweight.
The craving for salty foods that exists in many of us does not replace the craving for sweets necessarily, and many times these cravings appear intermittently and even in parallel. The problem develops and worsens as we consume more salty and sweet foods, as our satisfaction threshold rises and we need a larger amount of salt and sugar to meet it, which puts us in a cycle of increasing health risk and a long and frustrating struggle with our weight. The good news for those suffering from these problems comes from a new study which found that people who eat more spicy foods consume less salt and suffer less from high blood pressure, compared to non-spicy subjects.
And what about sweet food?
Purdue University in Indiana revealed two different studies in progress that find a relationship between eating spicy foods and lower sugar cravings and one with an increased level of activity. The study found that capsaicin (responsible for the burn we experience from spicy food) present in foods has various health benefits. According to one study, capsaicin has the ability to suppress our appetite and increase our energy expenditure. Alternatively, the other study is showing that hot peppers reduce the craving for sugar and sweet foods. These findings suggest that adding just half a teaspoon of hot peppers to lunch, among people who were not accustomed to consuming it, lowered cravings for both sweet, salty and fatty foods, resulting in a 70-calorie reduction from their next meal each day - calories that add up and make a significant difference.
If you aren’t used to eating spicy foods, we recommend that you start with small amounts to get used to the taste. Hot sauce can be added incrementally until you become more tolerant. Then you can add the actual peppers to your food and make all kinds of fun and tasty dishes. How hot is that?