Image: chili peppers
Manish Swarup  /  AP file
Spicy foods can strengthen muscles, boost your mood, build brainpower — and help you stay slim.
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updated 8/26/2007 1:29:35 PM ET 2007-08-26T17:29:35

Adding spices to your diet can curb hunger, strengthen muscles, boost your brainpower and improve mood, new research shows. Plus, you get instant big-time flavor for a few calories and nearly zero fat. Toss spices on your eats to…

Stay slender
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that when women added 2 teaspoons of dried red pepper on their food, they consumed fewer calories and fat in later meals. Give your diet a light start; splash hot sauce on your morning omelet.

Become stronger
The curcumin that turns turmeric yellow also helps reduce inflammation and aids muscle repair after heavy exercise, researchers at the University of South Carolina at Columbia say. Enjoy the Indian spice for a few days before a big workout (try stirring it in a cup of lowfat cottage cheese and sliced fruit) to speed recovery.

Keep sharp
Curcumin also sweeps out plaque deposits in your brain, which may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, research from the University of California at Los Angeles suggests. For a savory meal, dust curry spices over rice and beans.

Get happy
Capsaicin (the compound that gives chiles their kick) triggers pain receptors in the mouth, in turn signaling your brain to release feel-good endorphins, according to scientists at the State University of New York at Buffalo. That chemical surge not only helps dull the pepper’s bite, but it also betters your mood. Next time you need a quick lift, toss red pepper flakes or some diced chile peppers into your salad or bowl of chilled soup. Now that’s cool!

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