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In addition to making food taste better, recent research reported by UCLA, the University of South Carolina at Columbia, and the British Journal of Nutrition points to several surprising benefits that spices offer health-minded eaters. Women who sprinkled 2 teaspoons of dried red pepper on an omelet or another breakfast item tended to consume fewer calories and fats later in the day. The Indian curry spice curcumin was found to promote muscle repair when used several days before heavy weight training. You can also improve your mental outlook with the capsaicin in chile peppers, which signals your brain to release feel-good endorphins.

The Bigger Picture. It's pretty amazing that common spices can help you keep hunger in check, realize strength and muscle gains, and put you in a better mood. But that's what these studies suggest. Here's some more good news: Jazzing up your food with these spices adds only a few calories and practically no fat.
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