Adding spice to your meals might do more than boost their flavor. A recent study performed by researchers at the Peking University Health Science Center found that regular consumption of spicy foods contributes to decreased mortality rates, including deaths due to respiratory issues, heart disease and cancer.
The study was performed over nine years and had nearly 500,000 participants. Those who ate spicy foods several times a week lowered their risk of death by 14 percent. Researchers found a range of ailments that were positively affected by regular consumption of foods such as chili peppers. Those who also avoided drinking alcohol saw even greater benefits. So what does this mean for seniors, and how can they easily add some beneficial spice to their diets?
What makes spicy foods good for you?
They might make your eyes water, but spicy foods contain certain nutraceuticals that, according to a 2009 study published by a team from the University of Texas, help prevent cancer and other chronic illnesses. The study found that not only do spicy foods have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but they can prevent tumor growth. Both studies put forward the idea that diets high in vegetable matter are beneficial in the prevention of chronic sickness. Adding some red pepper to a meal could even help to control obesity and improve liver function.
Specifically, issues like chronic inflammation and irritation can lead to tumor growth. Nutraceuticals from spicy foods can stop the signals sent by inflamed tissue that often, if left untreated, can lead to malignant growth. Their antioxidant properties stop molecules from being torn apart, which may also lead to problems further down the line.
Top 5 spicy senior meals
- Spicy couscous
This is a healthy vegetarian meal with a kick. For meat lovers, you can serve it as a side for chicken.
- Flounder with red pepper cream
Turn a bland fish dish into something a little more flavorful and healthier.
- Spicy cauliflower and eggplant
Served over rice, this entree of fresh vegetables will make a very filling meal.
- Eggs and chorizo
Start your morning in south-of-the-border fashion. The protein will fill you up, and the spice will give your morning a bit of a zing.
- Cajun chicken Alfredo
This spicy twist on an Italian favorite is a great change to your typical pasta nights.