Thermogenic Foods & Spices – for Cold Winter Days and Beyond

Thermogenic Foods & Spices - for Cold Winter Days and Beyond

Cathy Hohmeyer

A hot bowl of chili is common winter food. But do you know why?

Lean protein and cayenne pepper as well as salsa, chilies, and mustard are thermogenic foods – it helps us heat up from the inside out!

Thermogenic Foods & Spices – if you have even heard of them – have gotten most of their “press” by being known as fat fighting foods during dieting.

Foods that can be listed in the thermogenic category love to get rid of the stored fat. After eating food; energy is required to process it. This increase in metabolic rate is referred to as the ‘Thermic effect’ (TE) of food or ‘Diet induced thermogenesis’ (DIT). Here’s where the diet thing comes in. Some scientists suggest that planning meals based on this concept may help you to control your weight.

Winter here in the northern Adirondacks – where I live … Means burning fat is a great thing for most of us that are not outside as much as other seasons. Altogether it is a great package. Being inside more our metabolism gets more sluggish from the decreased activity so the increased metabolism/burning calories/heating us up a bit is a terrific deal!

What are some more Thermogenic foods?

Some of the foods are ones you might guess. Cayenne pepper, hot peppers, chili powder, ginger and mustard. Green tea, parsley, apple cider vinegar, celery, cabbage and brussel sprouts are some that you might not guess. Even more are salmon, berries, chili powder and lemon squeezed into a glass of water. For all you farm to fork people, you gotta love this, one of the best examples of a thermogenic food is lean protein! Chili with grass fed beef – wow! Or wild caught salmon! Get your balanced omega 6 and 3s as well.

As a rule, these foods stimulate metabolism, improve glucose levels and remove water weight.

Oxford Polytechnic Institute proved that cayenne pepper stimulates the metabolism by approximately 20%.

It not only stimulates the body’s metabolic rate, but also cleans fat out of the arteries. British investigators added ordinary mustard to a meal, causing the average metabolism in 12 subjects to shoot up 25%!

Apple cider vinegar has always been suggested as a tonic – but if you are not able to do that on a regular basis then at least make your own salad dressing. [Use organic non-pasteurized vinegar and you will get more positive benefits than just increased metabolism. This live vinegar is actually a probiotic as well. When condiments were made by fermentation methods – they were truly healthy symbiotic foods that actually had a purpose for being eaten with a meal – see more of my blog posts under the cultured category and join me for class!]

Not all fat burning foods have to be hot. Vegetables (preferably raw) also increase your metabolism. It is suggested that red or green cabbage should be shredded, raw or steamed but …actually ….the best benefit from cabbage is when you naturally ferment it.

The vitamin C content will get very high. It was this natural sauerkraut that kept people from getting scurvy on long ocean voyages. The probiotics are great for your immune system. (there I go about probiotics again….)

And don’t forget garlic, great for cold and flu prevention too. Even grapefruit and oatmeal are on the “list”. So here is a great winter breakfast – eating porridge with a grapefruit in the morning may be more beneficial for us than we think.

Here’s more thermogenic foods with added benefits: cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and bay leaves actually have drug-Iike properties that help us handle the sugar in sweets. So French toast or cookies with cinnamon may balance that insulin level. Salmon, parsley, tuna and tumeric are even more. I guess with all this said, an addition of Indian style foods more often would be a “hot” thing to do during the winter time as those recipes tend to use combinations of these spices and more.

And coconut oil is SO on the list. It is a great winter time addition to your diet. Not only does it increase metabolism but has wonderful nutritional value as well as giving a boost to your immune system. Coconut oil is so good that it deserves its own article. I have a friend that swears his wife is in a much better mood when she adds coconut oil to her diet in winter! Ever tried homemade French fries in coconut oil? A treat not to be missed! My kids just love these and won’t let my husband buy frozen french fries ever again!

Turmeric is a “hot” topic in the nutrition field right now too! I make two styles of potato rosti and add turmeric to the potato “base”. It gives the potato a very nice color. So now not only is it great to eat but to put on your skin and to eat for your skin “As an antioxidant, it helps fight off free radicals, which add signs to skin aging.” explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D., at Schweiger Dermatology Group.

“Studies have also shown that ingestion of turmeric helps protect against the aging effects of sun-damage UV radiation and the formation of wrinkles and dark spots.” Turmeric is the “mild but very yellow” part in curries and probably the yellow in a really yellow mustard.

Stay Nourished!
Chef Cathy



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