The Science Behind Spicy Ingredients
- The heat we perceive from chili peppers or wasabi is not actually due to temperature, but rather a chemical reaction caused by a compound called capsaicin.
- When capsaicin comes into contact with receptors on our tongue, it triggers a pain response.
- Now, it sounds counterintuitive, but our brains interpret this pain as pleasure, releasing endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
- This creates a kind of masochistic delight, that keeps us reaching for another bite, despite the burning sensation.
- It shapes one’s palate and influence the perception of what tastes good.
Do Spicy Foods Provide Health Benefits?
Yes, absolutely. This is why…
i) Metabolic Boost
ii) Anti-Inflammatory Properties
- Some spices, such as turmeric and ginger, possess anti-inflammatory properties, which are great for post-workout recovery!
- Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, has these anti-inflammatory effects.
iii) Cardiovascular Benefits
- Capsaicin may contribute to cardiovascular health by promoting blood vessel function.
- Did you know that chili consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events?
It Is Unhealthy To Over-Consume Though
The National Capital Poison Center reports that capsaicin can also lead to shortness of breath and allergic reactions. Rarely, serious complications like chest pain, heart palpitations, heart attack and stroke can arise too.
- Individuals with conditions like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or peptic ulcers may experience worsened symptoms with spicy foods.
- Over 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month.
Spicy food may cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, though this is usually not a concern for healthy individuals.
In some people, spicy food can trigger diarrhea or other digestive problems.
What Did You Learn?
I, personally love spicy food, and I usually have something spicy like kimchi or peppers every few days.
However, I try not to eat more than a recommended serving, and I try to moderate how frequently I eat spicy good items.
Thank you! If you have questions or thoughts, I am happy to discuss!