Love hot sauce? Can’t get enough chili peppers? You’re not the only one. If you’re a fan of spicy food, you’re in good company. According to some data, around 59% of consumers aged 18–34 say that they prefer very spicy foods.
With that being said, just because you love to eat a specific type of food, it doesn’t mean that you should or that it’s healthy. So what does the science say about eating spicy food? Is it good for you? bad for you? Or is it just a matter of personal preference? Here’s what you need to know about the possible health benefits of eating spicy food!
The Benefits of Eating Spicy Food
Whether you like your food mild, medium, or extra hot, there’s no denying that spicy dishes have a certain appeal. But is eating spicy food actually good for you? When you eat something spicy, your body responds by releasing endorphins. These hormones interact with the receptors in your brain to give you a feeling of pleasure. In other words, eating spicy foods can actually make you feel happier!
Endorphins & Immunity
In addition to making you feel good, endorphins also offer some health benefits. For example, they can help reduce pain and inflammation throughout your body. Endorphins are also known to boost your immune system, which can help you fight off infection and disease.
Now, we’re not claiming that endorphins are going to make you immune to all kinds of infections and diseases, but endorphins can have an influence on several immune functions within our bodies. Such as our antibody synthesis, lymphocyte proliferation, and natural killer cytotoxicity.
Metabolism & Weight loss
Another benefit of eating spicy food is that it can help boost your metabolism. A study conducted in 2010 found that Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their heat, can increase your metabolic rate by up to an estimated 8%! This means that your body will burn more calories even when you’re at rest.
Capsaicin has also been shown to help reduce appetite, which can lead to weight loss over time.
Of course, there are other factors that contribute to weight loss (such as exercise and portion control) but eating some good spicy food can help to contribute to losing a few extra pounds.
Helps Reduce Inflammation Levels
If you suffer from conditions like arthritis, autoimmune disorders, or headaches and nausea, you may find relief by eating spicy food. That’s because capsaicin has been shown to help reduce inflammation levels in the body.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, capsaicin has been studied in a syngeneic mouse model for its potential to suppress tumor growth. It suggests that incorporating spicy foods into your diet may not only provide relief for conditions such as arthritis and headaches but also have potential anti-cancer effects.
Furthermore, the combination of curcumin, ginger, and garlic commonly found in spicy foods has been shown to have synergistic anti-inflammatory effects in a syngeneic mouse model, further highlighting the potential benefits of incorporating spicy foods into your diet.
Improves Heart Health
Last but not least, eating spicy food has also been linked to improved heart health. Data shows that those who ate chili peppers or spicy foods in general regularly were less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke. This is because eating this type of food can help to promote a healthy heart.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of capsaicin make it an effective supplement for heart health. For instance, researchers found that capsaicin significantly lowered the danger of heart disease in three months for adults with low levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
While more research needs to be done, the results of data so far show that it helps quite a bit with inflammation and is promising for those suffering from chronic inflammation.
Bottom Line: The Science Says…
So what does the science say about eating spicy food? Well, there are some potential benefits! Science is showing that eating spicy food will:
- Release endorphins (Helping with pain, inflammation, and depression)
- Helps manage metabolism & weight loss
- Can help to lower inflammation levels
- Improve heart health
The Risks of Eating Spicy Food
On the other hand, there are a few potential risks to be aware of before loading up on fiery dishes. However, generally speaking, these will only happen if you consume too much just like any other food.
Heartburn and indigestion: Capsaicin can trigger heartburn and indigestion by irritating the lining of the esophagus and stomach. If you’re prone to heartburn or indigestion, you might want to tread carefully with spicy food.
Eating an abundance of spicy food could cause
- A stomach ache or pain
- Gastroesophageal reflux
Generally speaking though, most people won’t experience any of these unless they have digestive issues. In the meantime, it’s best to proceed with caution if you have any digestive issues.
Best Way to Try Spicy Foods
Now that you know some of the benefits of eating spicy food, you might be wondering what are some amazing or unique spicy foods to try. Warning though: If you’ve never eaten spicy food before, it’s best to start slow. You can begin by trying dishes with a milder chili pepper like a jalapeño. Don’t go crazy on your first hot sauce and get one made from a pepper like the 7 pot primo.
Once you’re comfortable with something milder, you can move on to hotter peppers like ghost peppers. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all chili peppers are created equal. For example, a habanero pepper is going to be much hotter than a jalapeño pepper. So, if you’re trying a dish for the first time, look up the heat levels of peppers on the Scoville scale.
Unique Spicy Foods to Try
There is a whole community out there that loves and thrives on spicy foods. So when it comes to different recipes and trying different sauces, there is quite a lot to choose from! With that being said, we have a couple of our own favorite and unique ones to share with you.
- The Worlds Hottest Pickles
- PAQUI ONE CHIP CHALLENGE (WARNING: Only for those who can handle extreme heat)
Spice Up Your Life
So, is spicy food healthy for you? Overall, the answer seems to be yes! Eating spicy dishes can offer some impressive health benefits, just be sure not to overdo it on the capsaicin! Or if you have digestive problems such as IBS, it’s best to stay away from something that may upset your stomach or bowels.
The overall consensus seems to be that it is generally healthy for you. So go ahead and enjoy your next curry, hot sauce, or chili dish and reap some health benefits!
Mikey V’s Foods is an award-winning, veteran owned, Texas-based food company aimed at offering high quality, hot sauces, salsas, spicy pickles, and barbeque sauces. We specialize in spicy, tasty, and unique foods.