What’s the Allure of Spicy Foods?
Have you ever wondered what the allure is in eating spicy foods? For something that makes faces redden, palms and brows to become sweaty, and even cause tongues to go numb, it seems strange that anyone would eat foods like hot peppers, let alone enjoy them. So, what exactly draws people to heat in foods?
You may be surprised to know, the pain inflicted by hot peppers releases endorphins and dopamine. These chemicals combine to create a euphoric experience similar to what runners experience in a “runner’s high.” Tolerance and pain level can vary from person to person, but ultimately, the amount of heat an individual can tolerate depends on exposure. In other words, tolerance to spicy foods can be built up over time.
If you’ve ever eaten something spicy, you’ll be familiar with the sort of shock and adrenaline rush that follows. What you might find surprising is that studies have found that there are health benefits of spicy foods.
Health Benefits of Spicy Foods
Most foods with “spicy” or “hot” on the label contain hot peppers or extract from hot peppers. Capsaicin within chili peppers is the compound that is actually responsible for the burning sensation. Capsaicin, along with antioxidants in hot peppers are also linked to several of the health benefits of spicy foods:
1. Aids in weight loss
Some studies have found that capsaicin can boost metabolism and suppress appetite. Consuming foods with the compound can cause the body to raise in temperature and increase oxygen consumption which leads to more calories burned.
2. Reduces inflammation
Hot peppers contain high amounts of antioxidants that can help to combat free radicals in the body. Reducing the production of free radicals has been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as lower the risk of illnesses like heart disease and strokes.
3. Capsaicin Can be Used for Pain Relief
Capsaicin is used in some topical pain relief creams. The compound works by stimulating pain receptors, resulting in reduced sensitivity to pain. These pain relief creams are generally used in the treatment of joint disorders and nerve damage in people with diabetes.
The Bottom Line
The health benefits of spicy foods are unlikely to sway anyone who is heat-averse from running out to stock up on hot sauce or chili peppers. For those who enjoy a little heat in their food however, you may be happy to know your pain may be rewarded with some positive health effects.
What You Should Know
While consuming antioxidants and capsaicin in chili peppers can have positive health implications, there is still a danger in consuming too much. Moderation is important as hot foods can result in some side effects. Most common side effects include burning caused by heartburn or acid reflux, and discomfort from elevated temperature.
If you’re already a fan of spicy food, you’ll be glad to find that sticking-out the pain may come with some fairly significant health perks. Beyond the rush of adrenaline and flavor associated with chili peppers, compounds and antioxidants found in hot peppers can have a variety of beneficial effects. The health benefits of spicy foods may even convince anyone on the fence to add some heat to their diet.
Aside from consuming chili peppers directly, spicy foods like hot sauce and pepper-infused oils provide a kick without sacrificing great flavor. Products like Truff Black Truffle Infused Hot Sauce and The Olive Bar’s Garlic Jalapeno Extra Virgin Olive Oil use high-quality ingredients to add a little heat to your favorite dishes.
Looking to spice things up with some heat? The Olive Bar in Downtown Campbell carries a wide assortment of high-quality hot sauces, spicy preserves, chili pepper-infused olive oils, and more. Visit us in-store or shop online today.