Health Benefits Of Spicy Food And The Science Behind It
Spicy food gives a specific taste and improves the flavor of the food we eat. But, it can do so much more. It can improve our general health. Namely, turmeric, red chili peppers, cayenne pepper and jalapeños provide a surprising number of health benefits.
The Health Benefits Of Spicy Food
The hot sensation in spicy food comes from the compound capsaicin. Studies have shown that eating hot, spicy foods can help burn up to 16 percent more calories and fat, because it speeds up the metabolism. Also, when people eat spicy foods, they satisfy their hunger with smaller portions. Namely, people who eat appetizers with hot sauces consume 200 calories less than people who do not eat hot sauce.
Hot foods improve the functioning of the heart. The capsaicin creates a feeling of warmth and it helps lower the bad cholesterol. To be more precise, capsaicin helps reduce the cholesterol buildup and it increases the blood flow, by blocking the gene that causes the arteries to narrow.
There’s evidence that some spicy foods can have a huge impact in the fight against cancer. According to Cedars-Sinai, a medical center in Los Angeles, capsaicin can help slow down the rate of spreading of prostate cancer cells up to 80 percent. Also, the curcumin compound, an active antioxidant found in turmeric, has a significant impact in the fight against cancer, such as stomach, cervical and breast cancer.
According to a research by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the consumption of hot peppers may bring you a greater longevity. By observing the eating habits of about 500,000 people, from 30 to 79 years of age, they concluded that those who eat spicy and hot food, at least 6 times a week, had fewer chances of premature death, reduced by 14 percent.
Arthritis and certain types of headaches can be relieved with capsaicin. All you need to do is rub the affected area of the body with a little bit of capsaicin cream.
The Science Behind Spicy Food
Spicy is not a taste, like sour, salty or sweet. Rather, it’s a sensation. When we eat spicy food, we activate the polymodal nociceptors, which are sensory neurons. Since these are activated by heat, when we eat a chili pepper, the brain thinks that the mouth is burning, so we feel that burning sensation. This is when our heart starts to beat faster and we start to sweat.
To learn more about the science behind spicy food, watch the following video.