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With all the cold weather most Canadians experience for many months of the year, getting some added warmth in any way possible can help. Adding a little spicy food to your dinner table can benefit you in a number of ways.

Food with a little kick will do. It doesn’t have to make your eyes water and leave you begging for a cold glass of water to reap the health benefits.

Here are seven reasons why you might want to add some extra heat to your favourite dishes:

Turn up the calorie burn. Eating spicy food can bring on a good sweat and that, science has proven, can help burn calories. In fact, it can burn calories eight per cent quicker than foods without the heat of spice. It is true, too, that if you choose spicier appetizers, you’re less likely to eat more of your main meal.

Heart health. Studies have indicated that people who live in countries where the diet tends to be spicier have healthier hearts. Foods like hot peppers even tend to lower bad cholesterol. These foods are high in capsaicin, which helps fight inflammation—a culprit that can lead to poor heart health.

Kicks pain in the butt. The capsaicin found in spicy foods like chili peppers is thought to help block the brain’s pain receptors, which is why you find capsaicin in pain relief products like ointments. The burning sensation helps alleviate discomfort associated with many conditions.

Adds to longevity. If you want to say “yes” to a longer life, spicy foods may help. A study coming out of China that looked at half a million people showed that those who ate spicier foods on a regular basis live longer.

Full of vitamins. Things that add heat to food—primarily hot peppers—are full of nutrients that can contribute to good health. While they’re especially high in Vitamins A and C, they also contain minerals that are known to keep colds and flu at bay.

Happy, happy. Consuming spicy food turns on the serotonin in your brain, which, according to studies, apparently makes it easier for you to deal with depression, anxiety, stress and anger.

A thankful tummy. If you have a stomach ache, eating spicier food may lower gastric acid, new research suggests. Spicy foods also cut the chance of the development of gastric ulcers by more than 50 per cent. That’s a great tradeoff for eating a few hot peppers every once in a while.

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