Adding spices to your food can add to the flavor and give some pizazz to an otherwise bland meal. Besides adding some flavor to your meal-spices offer amazing health benefits in a small package.

For those who like it hot-studies have shown that people who eat a spicy meal consume less calories and these same studies found that chemicals in peppers called capsaicinoids (which cause the burn)reduce cravings for fatty, salty and sweet foods. This only pertains to those who don’t eat spicy food on a regular basis and not chili-heads.

Foods with Turmeric which contains curcumin help us breath easier. For centuries, Ayurvedic doctors have used turmeric (curcumin) to treat respiratory problems. Studies show that it protects the lungs from irritants, pollutants and infectious agents in the air such as cigarette smoke, exhaust, dust and viruses. This results in a lower risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, laryngitis, bronchitis and other lungs diseases. It’s because of curcumin’s ability to prevent infection and to suppress a protein called NF-kB, which causes inflammation and mucus in the airways.

Many who eat spicy foods tend to sweat because of the spice. Sweating helps us rid our bodies of germs that are making us sick. Adding a little spice to your chicken soup while you are fighting a cold will help you sweat out more germs and can help break a fever.

Certain spices can cancel out the damage of a high fat meal. When you eat a high fat meal your levels of triglycerides (heart disease and diabetes) surge, as well as your insulin, which stores unused glucose as fat. When you season a high fat meal with turmeric or clove your triglyceride response and insulin is decreased. These spices are particularly high in antioxidants that improve insulin sensitivity.
Speaking of antioxidants rich spices- turmeric and clove also fight off free radical damage which causes cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, immune dysfunction, cataracts, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s and other age related diseases.

Need another reason to add spice to your meals? Grilling and barbecuing at temperatures above 375 degrees leads to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) — toxins linked with colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers. Those crispy, burnt bits are the highest in HCAs. But a study at Kansas State University found that marinating or dry-rubbing beef patties with rosemary cut HCAs by 61 to 70 percent and that Thai spice preparation reduced HCAs by 40 to 42 percent. While that doesn’t mean you can burn your meat without worry-it does show that the antioxidants in rosemary combat that those cancer causing carcinogens before they have a chance to wreak havoc in your body.

So next time you are cooking, add a little spice to your meal and enjoy these amazing benefits.