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A Spicy Route to a Longer Life

The more spicy foods you eat, the longer you’re likely to live compared to folks whose diets lack fiery ingredients like chili peppers. A team of Harvard researchers looked into the question of whether or not spicy foods had any influence on the risk of death among some 199,000 men and 288,000 women ages 30 through 79 who lived in 10 regions of China. None had a history of cancer, heart disease or stroke when the study began. The team surveyed the participants’ diet and health histories between 2004 and 2008. After seven years of follow up, results indicated that regular consumption of spicy foods was linked to decreased chances of dying during the study. Eating spicy foods once or twice a week was associated with a 10 percent decline in the overall risk for death compared to consuming spicy foods less than once a week. Consuming spicy foods even more often - between three and seven days a week - was linked to a risk of death 14 percent lower than the others in the study. Fresh chili peppers in particular were associated with a lower incidence of dying from cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The researchers noted that while the study didn’t prove cause and effect, it did show an association between spicy foods and a lower risk of death.

My take: This is good news for those of us who enjoy spicy foods. Earlier studies have indicated that capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers that gives it its heat, is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent and may enhance the metabolism of fat. Red chili peppers also have been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Most varieties are high in vitamin C, a potential cancer fighter. Here in the American Southwest, chili peppers and cayenne are staples. Many healthy traditional cuisines incorporate chili pepper into both savory and sweet dishes - and it's a delicious addition to hot chocolate. 

4 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

If your metabolism is slowing down, don’t fret: your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on keeping your weight at an ideal level. See what Dr. Weil suggests for boosting your metabolism. 

As we age, our metabolism slows down, which can lead to weight gain. But small dietary adjustments can help minimize unwanted pounds in our middle years. Try these suggestions:

Choose healthy carbohydrates. Replace refined, high-glycemic index carbs with unrefined, low-glycemic choices such as sprouted grain breads or beans and lentils. The latter do not cause the spikes in blood glucose levels that encourage the storage of fat.

Use spices. Capsaicin (the compound that gives chili peppers their bite), black pepper and ginger all boost the generation of heat in the body, leading to more calories burned.

Drink green tea. The main antioxidant polyphenol in green tea, known as epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, stimulates the body to help burn calories. Dr. Weil recommends drinking a few cups of quality green tea every day.

Get hungry. Many people believe that eating five or six small meals daily boosts metabolism, but recent research indicates that's probably false. To increase fat metabolism, allow yourself to be slightly hungry now and then. The best way may be to eat two or three modest meals daily, with no snacks. Eat until you are satisfied and no longer hungry, not necessarily until you clean your plate.

In addition, regular physical exercise - with some sessions being as intense as your body allows, like interval sprinting in the yard or on a bike – is another way to keep your metabolism functioning properly.

4 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

If your metabolism is slowing down, don’t fret: your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on keeping your weight at an ideal level. See what Dr. Weil suggests for boosting your metabolism.

As we age, our metabolism slows down, which can lead to weight gain. But small dietary adjustments can help minimize unwanted pounds in our middle years. Try these suggestions:

 

  1. Choose healthy carbohydrates. Replace refined, high-glycemic index carbs with unrefined, low-glycemic choices such as sprouted grain breads or beans and lentils. The latter do not cause the spikes in blood glucose levels that encourage the storage of fat.
  2. Use spices. Capsaicin (the compound that gives chili peppers their bite), black pepper and ginger all boost the generation of heat in the body, leading to more calories burned.
  3. Drink green tea. The main antioxidant polyphenol in green tea, known as epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, stimulates the body to help burn calories. Dr. Weil recommends drinking a few cups of quality green tea every day.
  4. Get hungry. Many people believe that eating five or six small meals daily boosts metabolism, but recent research indicates that's probably false. To increase fat metabolism, allow yourself to be slightly hungry now and then. The best way may be to eat two or three modest meals daily, with no snacks. Eat until you are satisfied and no longer hungry, not necessarily until you clean your plate.

 

In addition, get regular physical exercise, with some sessions being as intense as your body allows, like interval sprinting in the yard or on a bike – is another way to keep your metabolism functioning properly.

What Makes Turmeric So Healthy?

Turmeric is a spice that may help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease – so why not add it to your diet? Find out more about this healing spice, and get the recipe for Golden Milk featuring turmeric!

The principal ingredient in mild yellow prepared mustard and in some exotic curries, turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric may have a specific preventive effect against Alzheimer's disease, as the population of rural India has one of the lowest rates of this disease in the world; daily consumption of turmeric may be a factor. Turmeric may reduce the risk of cancer, as well. In Okinawa, Japan, turmeric tea is a popular drink, and may be linked to Okinawans’ status as the world’s longest-lived people, with an average lifespan of 81.2 years.

While you can certainly add powdered, dried turmeric to your meals, whole, grated root may be even better. Try the Anti-Inflammatory Golden Milk recipe, which features freshly grated turmeric!

The Benefits of Black Pepper

More than a zippy spice that accents bland foods, black pepper has legitimate health benefits as well. Find out what makes it worth an extra shake on your favorite foods, and try out the recipe!

Black pepper is the most popular spice in the world, and black, green and white peppercorns all come from the black pepper plant (Piper nigrum), native to Asia. Black pepper is the whole, partially ripened fruit; green is the unripe fruit; and white is the peeled seed.

Black pepper can provide you with serious health benefits: it is a proven antibacterial agent, and compounds in this spice help protect the integrity of DNA as well, making it a possible weapon against cancer.

Keep in mind that black pepper can irritate the GI tract, urinary tract, and prostate, and shouldn’t be consumed frequently in quantity.

Try adding some black pepper to the Tuscan Kale Salad recipe!

 

Black Pepper: More Than a Spice

Black pepper is perhaps the most popular spice in the world, and black, green and white peppercorns all come from the black pepper plant (Piper nigrum), native to Asia. Black pepper is the whole, partially ripened fruit; green is the unripe fruit; and white pepper is derived from the peeled seed. Some reasons to eat black pepper?

  1. It is a proven antibacterial agent.
  2. It contains compounds that help maintain the integrity of DNA, possibly providing some protection against cancer.
  3. It has been known to help calm digestive issues - it helps signal the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid, which aids in protein digestion. This, in turn, can help address heartburn, indigestion, gas, diarrhea and constipation.
  4. It can promote detoxification via sweating and increased urination, while the outer layer of peppercorns facilitates the breakdown of fat cells.

It also provides manganese, iron and vitamin K, and is a good source of dietary fiber.

Keep in mind that black pepper can irritate the GI tract, urinary tract, and prostate, and shouldn't be consumed frequently in quantity.

For the best flavor, choose whole peppercorns that you can mill before adding to dishes, and add pepper just before removing the dish from heat to ensure best flavor.

Mustard – Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses mustard seeds and the various types available for culinary use. There are three species for mustard that are most-commonly used: black, white, and brown. Black mustard is the most pungent and originated in the Middle East. Brown mustard is used to make Dijon mustard and is native to the Himalayas. White mustard is the mildest, native to the eastern Mediterranean, and is used to make traditional yellow mustard. Medicinally, mustard is used to treat gastrointestinal issues as well as joint-related aches and pains.

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Nutmeg – Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the spice nutmeg and its natural health benefits. The egg-shaped nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg tree, a tree native to Indonesia. Traditionally, nutmeg has been used orally for digestive issues such as flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. Topically, nutmeg has been use to treat mouth sores and toothache. Ground nutmeg is often used in baked goods due to its pungent and sweet taste.

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Peppercorn – Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses peppercorn and the various forms pepper comes in - black, green, and white pepper. Peppercorn is the whole, partially ripened fruit (or unripe fruit in the case of green pepper) of the pepper plant, native to Asia. Black pepper has been used to calm digestive issues - heartburn, indigestion, gas - and aid in the absorption of turmeric.

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Paprika – Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the health benefits of this paprika, a popular spice known for its distinct smoky flavor. Paprika comes from sun-dried peppers and has been traditionally used for treating digestive issues, circulatory issues, cramps and fever. As a topical applicant, it has been used for reducing arthritis pain, muscle spasms, and even shingles. Paprika adds color to many foods and is used in a wide variety of dishes.

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