Updated: Jan 24
So you like it hot? If you're one of those adventurous eaters who enjoy a little fire in your food, you're in the right place. According to a study, almost half of Americans, 43%, said they enjoy "testing their limits" when talking about trying spicy foods. It's not just the U.S. either, chile peppers and spicy foods are popular all around the world.
But is eating spicy food good for you? The short answer is: Yes!
Let's dive into why we're saying spicy food is healthy and back those claims up. Let's take a look!
1. Spicy Food Can Help You Lose Weight
When it comes to weight loss, spicy food is your friend. Adding a bit of heat to your meals can help you burn more calories, which in turn can help you lose weight. How is that possible? Well, in a couple of ways.
When it comes to weight loss, boosting your metabolism is key. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do this. As you probably know exercising regularly, for example, is a great way to help your body burn more calories. But adding some spicy foods to your diet could actually help boost your metabolism as well.
Spicy foods like chili peppers and hot sauce contain a compound called capsaicin, which has been shown to boost metabolism and help the body burn more calories. In fact, a 2012 review found that capsaicin can help the body burn about 50 extra calories a day, which over time can result in significant levels of weight loss.
In addition to helping you burn calories, the review found that capsaicin can act somewhat like an appetite suppressant. Which can make you feel fuller and consume less calories.
Though capsaicinoids alone will not solve all weight loss woes, they could potentially contribute to a holistic weight management program. So if you’re looking to drop a few pounds, adding chili peppers and hot sauce (or other spicy foods) to your diet is definitely worth considering.
2. Can Help Improve Your Heart Health
When it comes to heart health, spicy food is again a friend. This is because capsaicinoids (the same stuff that makes spicy food hot), have been shown to improve various markers of heart health.
Spicy foods help your heart in several ways:
Lowers blood pressure
Controls cholesterol levels
A study done in 2017 found that those who took two 4mg capsules of capsaicin every day for three months saw improvements in their blood cholesterol levels when compared to the control group.
A 2017 study on the National Library of Medicine, shows the connection between heart health and the consumption of red hot chili peppers over six years. It found that those who consumed the peppers had a 13% lower incidence of death from causes such as heart disease or stroke.
3. It's Good For Your Gut
Your gut is home to billions of microbes, some good and some bad. Good bacteria are important for things like keeping your immune system strong and digesting food properly. So it's important to do everything you can to keep them happy and healthy. Adding spicy foods to your diet is one way to do that.
A 2006 study discovered that capsaicin increases blood flow to the GI tract but also protected it from potential harm. This could potentially mean that spicy foods can help reduce inflammation and fight off harmful bacteria in the gut.
Additionally, capsaicin is an antioxidant, meaning it can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. This is important for gut health as inflammation can lead to digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea.
Which means it could potentially help with chronic inflammation that has been linked with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease.
4. Capsaicin Helps with Pain
Capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, is a known analgesic when used in topical applications such as lotions. Capsaicin works mainly by reducing Substance P, a pain transmitter in your nerves. It can be applied topically as a cream, gel, or patch.
A study in 2011 revealed that applying a high-concentration patch containing 8% capsaicin to the affected area for 60 minutes could provide up to 12 weeks of pain relief for patients with neuropathic pain.
A study from 2016 showed that capsaicin can help relieve arthritis pain when applied topically as a cream. The cream was found to be more effective than placebo in reducing pain and improving physical function.
Capsaicin is also being studied as a potential treatment for cluster headaches, though more research is needed in this area.
5. Can Increase Life Expectancy
Eating spicy food can help you live a longer life... well, kind of...
A study among Chinese adults discovered that those who ate spicy foods daily had a 14% lower risk of premature death compared to those who ate spicy foods only once per week. This is assumably due to its improved heart health, anti-inflammatory effect, and decrease in obesity.
Additionally, a 2017 study from the University of Vermont found similar findings regarding life expectancy in the US.
However, it's important to remember that spicy foods are not a magic wand for health and should be paired with a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine. Your everyday lifestyle choices are all going to ultimately contribute to life expectancy.
6. Eating Spicy Food Can Make You Happier
This is our favorite reason for eating spicy food! Capsaicin has been shown to work as an endorphin. The body creates endorphins in response to the heat from eating spicy food, which it mistakes for pain. This makes you feel better and can decrease the feelings of depression or stress.
Capsaicin can help boost your mood by releasing more endorphins and make you feel happier! So next time you're feeling down, try reaching for the hot sauce!
Disclaimer: Here at Mikey V's, we're not medical doctors or providing medical advice, however, everything listed is backed up by a real study conducted by professionals.
So as you can see eating spicy foods is healthy for you as it can help fight pain, reduce inflammation, boost your mood, and even potentially increase your life expectancy. Not to mention, using chile peppers or hot sauce is a great way to add flavor to your food.
Does the Type of Spicy Food or Chili Pepper Matter
Yes, the type of chile pepper does matter when it comes to health benefits.
Capsaicin is the main active compound in chili peppers that is responsible for the spiciness. All chili peppers contain capsaicin, but some have more than others. The Scoville Scale is used to measure the amount of capsaicin in a pepper.
Depending on how much capsaicin is used in the chili pepper or hot sauce you use will change how much your body will benefit. The more capsaicin (since it's the key ingredient for the health benefits) the more your body will benefit... within reason that is! Just like anything else you don't want to consume too much.
Healthline suggests that using 2-6 mg of capsaicin can still offer you health benefits, however, consuming around 500 mg twice a day is ideal. So with that in mind, you're not looking at just any spicy food, you want to eat foods that use capsaicin from chili peppers!
How to Spice Up Your Food
Now that you know all of the amazing benefits eating spicy food can offer, you're probably wondering how you can add more of it to your diet. Here are some tips:
-Start off slow: If you're not used to eating spicy food, start by adding a little bit at a time. You can always add more but it's hard to take it away once it's there.
-Add spice to your favorite dishes: A great way to get started is by adding chili peppers to dishes you already love. This will help ease you into the world of spice while still being able to enjoy your favorite foods.
-Make your own spice blends: This is a great way to customize the level of spice in your food. You can also make a big batch and store it so you always have some on hand.
-Experiment with different types of peppers: There are so many different types of chili peppers out there and each one offers its own unique flavor. Try out a few different ones and see which ones you like the best. Use the Scoville Scale to gauge how hot it is first though!
-Pair spice with other flavors: Spicy food doesn't have to be all about the heat. Pairing it with other flavors can help round out the dish and make it more enjoyable. Try pairing spicy food with sweet, sour, or savory flavors.
- Use hot sauces: Get some of your favorite hot sauces and incorporate them into your dishes. There are so many different craft hot sauces now with many flavor profiles and heat levels.
Best Hot Sauces to Spice Up Your Food
There are plenty of choices when it comes to using hot sauce, but we have a few of our own favorites! Here are some great hot sauces to try:
Zing Hot Sauce
Zing hot sauce is a mild sauce but a crowd favorite! This versatile sauce pairs well with cream cheese as an appetizer, all oriental food, chicken, pork, ribs, and pizza!
Ghostly Garlic Hot Sauce
With just over 1 million Scoville heat units(SHU's), Ghostly Garlic hot sauce uses the Ghost Pepper or Bhut Jolokia which is HOT. Slightly smoky and packed with one of Mikey V's unique flavor profiles.
Mikey V's Sam Sauce
Sam Sauce is a delicious and unique combination of Japanese Black Vinegar, Yuzu Vinegar, roasted tomatillos, jalapenos, and the 7-Pot Primo Pepper. This hot sauce has tons of flavor.
Great for: tacos, eggs, pizza, wings, burgers, steak, chicken, vegetables, and more.
Mikey V's Sweet Ghost Pepper
The Sweet Ghost Pepper hot sauce has won multiple awards for years. It uses the Bhut Jolokia- Ghost Pepper, which packs some heat and capsaicin. It's the perfect accompaniment to cream cheese, ribs, chicken, burgers, tacos, seafood, and oriental cuisine.
Peach Habanero Hot Sauce
The Peach Habanero won its first award at the 2013 Austin Hot Sauce Festival and has since then won multiple awards! For those who want a heated, yet tropical experience, Peach Habanero Delight is the way to go. This flavor includes a mix of mild peppers, red onion, and habaneros blended with peaches and pineapple for sweetness.
Outside of hot sauces, you can also try the world's hottest pickles! (Beware though, these guys pack some serious heat and flavor).
Are There Risks to Eating Spicy Food
Like anything, there can be potential risks to eating spicy food. Spicy foods can trigger symptoms in people with certain gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux.
Additionally, hot peppers that contain capsaicin can burn your eyes or face so you don't want to touch your face after handling them without washing your hands first.
Also, it's important to note that eating too much spicy food or capsaicin could cause someone to have abdominal pain or issues in the bathroom; so, if you aren't used to eating spicy foods often, we suggest that you start small and build up your tolerance.
Eating Spicy Food is Healthy
Consuming spicy food is not only good for adding flavor to your favorite dishes, but it can also be healthy for you. There are many different types of chili peppers with varying levels of heat, so you can find one that fits your taste preference.
Additionally, hot sauces offer a variety of flavors and heat levels to choose from. Pairing spice with other flavors can help round out the dish and make it more enjoyable.
Leave a comment down below with your favorite ways to spice up a dish or your favorite hot sauces!