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Spicy Food Benefits: 5 Reasons The Spice Is Right

12/23/2016 10:17 EST | Updated 12/23/2016 10:17 EST

If you love spicy food, you know the sequence all too well.

The burn. The sweats. The flushed face. And the inevitable questions of "are you okay? Do you want some water?"

But while lovers of spicy foods might be confused for masochists, there's actually a handful of benefits for those who prefer their food piquant.

For starters, spicy food can help burn off calories. If your meal is pepper-based, it's probably the capsaicin, a natural compound, that's responsible for all that sweating. But it also speeds up your body's ability to burn fat by as much as eight per cent, according to the New York Times.

Another perk capsaicin brings to the table is a rush of serotonin. You know, that feel-good brain chemical directly tied to pleasure centres on your noggin. The rush is short lived and varies person to person but those who live for peppers describe the sensation as "tingly and euphoric lightheadedness".

And it's just not the head that benefits from spicy foods. A diet full of spice also works wonders for the heart. This is based on studies analyzing global diets which found locals who regularly included spice as part of their meals suffered fewer heart attacks than those with milder diets. The idea, as SELF explains, is that spicy foods negate the effects of low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol while reducing inflammation.

But fighting bad cholesterol isn't all capsaicin has been linked to. Research out of the U.K. found it acts as a cancer-fighting agent. Clinical trial found the compound can kill lung and pancreatic cancer cells without harming non-cancerous ones.

And finally -- and this is no big deal -- spicy food can lower your chances of dying, according to researchers. Now, it's no lazarus pit but a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal found those who ate spicy food six to seven times a week had a 14 per cent lower risk of premature death. That's compared to research subjects who ate spicy foods less than once a week.

Curious as how you can incorporate more spice into your diet? Check out the videos above to check out a sizzling Thai staple chock full of chilis.

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