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5 Warming Spices That’ll Keep You Toasty All Winter Long

By Jenny Smiechowski

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Article at a Glance:

  • The ancient Indian healing modality Ayurveda recommends eating foods with warming properties during the winter time.
  • These foods are known as “thermogenic” and modern science supports their ability to increase body temperature (and even fuel your metabolism).
  • Thermogenic spices can make your food delicious while they keep you warm and cozy this winter.
  • Black pepper, cumin, cayenne, ginger, and turmeric are five warming spices that can support you through colder seasons.

As the seasons change, so do your body’s needs. Foods that feel the most nourishing in January (like stews, hot teas, and hearty casseroles) aren’t the same foods that feel the most nourishing in July (like watermelon, crisp salads, and refreshing smoothies).

In the ancient Indian healing modality Ayurveda, there’s a concept known as ritucharya or “seasonal guidelines.” These guidelines help your body maintain balance and well-being during each season.

In winter, the ritucharya recommends eating foods with warming properties. This doesn’t just refer to a food’s temperature (although that’s a factor too). It refers to a food’s impact on your digestive system and body overall. Foods with warming properties stimulate heat in your digestive system and throughout your body.

These foods are known as “thermogenic” because they promote a bodily process called thermogenesis, where your body burns calories and breaks down fat cells to create heat. Studies show that thermogenic foods and spices can increase body temperature (and even fuel your metabolism). Here are five of our favorite thermogenic spices that’ll make your food delicious while they keep you warm and cozy this winter.

  1. Black Pepper
  2. Black pepper contains a thermogenic compound called piperine, which promotes heat in the body and causes the body to burn calories more quickly. Piperine can also help your body absorb other thermogenic compounds (like the curcumin in turmeric) better, so you get more warming bang in each bite. If you’re looking for a delicious cold-weather dish that packs a hint of peppery heat, try this Bacon and Chive Cheesy Orzo.

  3. Cumin
  4. Cumin has thermogenic properties that give your body temp and metabolism a boost too. In fact, one study found that this warming spice may be able to reduce body weight in obese women due to these properties. Curry powder is a great source of warming cumin. Check out this Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry recipe to add more cumin to your winter menu.

  5. Cayenne
  6. It’s not surprising that cayenne is considered a warming spice. It sure heats up your mouth! Research shows that a compound in cayenne called capsaicin can hijack the energy that’s typically used for muscle contraction and relaxation and use it to ramp up body heat. Researchers even believe this compound may have the potential to treat hypothermia in high doses. This Three-Cheese Queso Dip is a great way to squeeze more warming cayenne into your cold-weather diet. Feel free to add extra cayenne and other warming peppers.

  7. Ginger
  8. Research found that people who drank a hot ginger beverage had a higher body temperature than people who only drank hot water. People who ate gingerbread also saw a boost in body temperature compared to people who ate bread that didn’t contain ginger. Ginger contains minerals like magnesium, chromium, and zinc which can help improve circulation too, a helpful feature for keeping those extremities warm in the winter. This recipe for Buttermilk BBQ Chicken Tenders can help you include a little more ginger on your plate compliments of our Real Salt Red Rock BBQ Seasoning. As always, feel free to add more fresh or dried ginger of your own!

  9. Turmeric
  10. Turmeric contains compounds called tannins. Tannins absorb extra water, and as a result, they’re believed to have drying, warming properties. Turmeric also contains a compound called curcumin, which is proven to improve blood flow and keep those fingers and tootsies toasty. For a bit of turmeric, try this Adrenal Cocktail recipe with our Re-Lyte Immunity and add extra turmeric.

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