Spice up your life and live longer too

If you like your food hot and spicy, you might live longer. Research shows that people who include hot spices and fiery sauces in their diets lead healthier, longer lives.

If you like your food hot and spicy, you might live longer. Research shows that people who include hot spices and fiery sauces in their diets lead healthier, longer lives.

So, splash some Tabasco on your eggs and smear a glob of wasabi on your sushi to extend your life.

People have been enjoying spices for centuries, and not only for taste. Chillies, hot peppers and spices were used by ancient civilizations for decorative and medicinal purposes. They remain an integral part of traditional cuisine in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

The most common ingredient used worldwide is the chilli pepper, which is second only to salt as a seasoning. They were consumed by the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans as early as 7000BC. In the 15th and 16th centuries, spices were introduced by explorers to Europe and the new world.

These days it is relatively easy to buy spices in any supermarket across the globe.

Why are hot spices healthy?

Chillies and hot peppers can thank capsaicin, the main ingredient found in their veins - and the chemical that gives them their heat, for health benefits.

Capsaicin is an odourless, flavourless chemical that has been scientifically proven to combat several common conditions, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, joint pain, depression and digestion problems.

It stimulates, then decreases the intensity of pain signals. For this reason, capsaicin is frequently used as a topical treatment for pain, including the treatment of pain after surgery, joint problems, mouth sores and some skin conditions.

Turmeric, another vital spice in curries, has also shown health benefits. The main chemical in turmeric is curcumin, which is thought to slow the progression of certain neuro-degenerative diseases. Most recently, it has shown promising results in delaying the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

Studies also show that people who eat chillies and spices have lower rates of cancer, heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

Chillies and spices have an undeserved reputation for causing bad breath, ulcers, stomachaches and gas.

Aside from the bad breath - hey, they're not perfect - most spices are actually thought to prevent these ailments.

Diets rich in chillies, other capsaicin-containing peppers and many spices improve general health and might prevent several serious or life-threatening illnesses.

A few of the health benefits linked to turmeric and chillies:

l Lower blood pressure and cholesterol;

l Reduction in the frequency of headaches and migraines;

l Improved cardiovascular health and increased circulation;

l Increased metabolic rate, leading to weight loss;

l Decreased frequency of colds, fevers and respiratory problems;

l Increased endorphin production - counteracts depression;

l Anti-inflammatory benefits for arthritic conditions;

l Nutritional benefits. Chillies and spices are packed with vitamin A, C, beta-carotene and other antioxidants;

l Improved digestive function wards off flatulence and prevents ulcers.

Chillies and turmeric are used a lot in Latin American, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and African dishes. If you don't like to cook, sample spicy ethnic cuisine by dining at a restaurant.

Integrate some "fire" in your diet with:

Green and red chillies, Habanero peppers, jalapeno peppers, Poblano peppers, Serrano chillies and Anaheim and Hungarian chillies;

Cayenne Pepper: Finely ground red pepper derived from dried cayenne chillies;

Tabasco sauce: Hot sauce made from crushed, aged, red peppers, combined with vinegar and salt;

Sriracha: Hot chilli sauce or paste;

Wasabi: Japanese horseradish;

Peri Peri sauce: From peri peri chillies. - MSN.com