You know that sensation you get whenever you eat pepper or hot spicy food. You can’t help but rush out in search of water to cool off the pungent taste. But then you see other people eating the same food with utter satisfaction and joy. You probably wonder: what’s so good about spicy food? Are there any benefits to derive from spicy food? Or is it just the taste alone?
Surprisingly, scientific data shows that spicy food indeed has impressive benefits, including endorphin release. But there’s so much more.
Below are some benefits of spicy food and why people love them.
9 benefits of spicy food
1. Spicy food offer longevity
This may loom farfetched, but it’s backed up by science. Eating spicy food 6-7 days a week reduced death rate by 14%, according to a 2015 study by Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. And the good thing about it is that you get this benefit even by eating spicy food just once a day.
2. Spicy food is good for heart health
People who consume spicy food, especially chili pepper, have been found to have lower levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) that increases the risk of heart diseases. Research also shows a 13% reduction of deaths from heart disease and stroke in people who consume chili pepper.
3. Speeds up metabolism
Spicy food can increase your metabolic rate while resting and also slows down your appetite in the process. This can be quite helpful in weight loss and fat burn. In fact, one study discovered that turmeric suppressed the development of fat tissue in mice.
4. Spicy food makes you feel happier
This, again, may sound far-fetched, but it’s not so. Eating spicy food can cause your pituitary gland and hypothalamus to release endorphins. Endorphin is a “feel good” hormone, which gives you an instant feeling of pleasure throughout your body.
5. Pain relief
The pain-relieving effect of spicy food and pepper doesn’t come by ingestion. But think about how chili pepper burns your mouth when you eat it. After a while, you get accustomed to it and can consume more of the spice without feeling the sensation as hot as it once was.
The same thing happens when chili pepper is applied to wounds topically. It stings initially. Over time, the nerves in the wounded area get accustomed to the sensation, and their pain sensitivity reduces. This is considerably effective in injuries and arthritis.
6. Spices are anti-inflammatory
Ginger and garlic have been used for ages to treat conditions, including arthritis, headaches, and nausea. Cumin, a substance present in turmeric, also has anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Spicy food and pepper may be helpful for cancer
There’s an active compound in chili pepper known as capsaicin, which has been shown to destroy and inhibit cancerous cells. As it fights damaged cells, it leaves healthy ones unharmed. The research is still in its early stages, so there’s a high chance that a breakthrough in cancer treatment may be around the corner.
8. Spices can kill harmful bacteria in the body
Turmeric and cumin exhibit strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Without a doubt, eating one spicy food a day can be an effective way to protect yourself from inflammation.
9. Spicy foods may keep your gut healthy
When you chew pepper, the capsaicin binds to a receptor in your mouth. This action triggers a nerve in your tongue to transmit the information to your brain, which interprets the sensation as hotness.
That same receptor is present in your gut. As capsaicin from pepper gets to the digestive tract, it binds to the receptor and creates anandamide. This substance prevents inflammation in the gut. This spice action in the gut is particularly helpful for people at risk of developing intestinal tumors.
Joining the team of spice lovers may just be what you need
Although you may not currently battle any health issues, consuming spice can further improve your health and prevent minor inflammations. Seeing the feel-good and heart-health benefits of spice, it’s something you want to have on your radar.
If you’re new to the spice world, you can request spiced dishes tailor-made for you from catering services like Mexican Food Truck Catering. From chili pepper, garlic, and turmeric to curry and cinnamon, you’ll definitely find some spice that works well for your taste buds.
Reasons why people like spices
Research shows that chili consumption is associated with sensation seeking and sensitivity to reward. That is, people who often eat and enjoy spicy foods are more sensitive to reward.
Therefore, people crave spicy food just as they crave something they know is sweet, something that “rewards” them. So they continue in that behavior.
It’s more or less like morphine and other addictive drugs.
For something that elicits oral pungency and irritation, there must be a factor that makes it enjoyable to certain individuals. Some of these factors include:
- Repeated exposure to the same kind of menu;
- Culture; and
- Physiological differences, such as variations in taste buds.
Some cultures typically cook their dishes with lots of spices. So a child born in such a tribe gets accustomed to it from a young age, so it becomes normal for them. A non-spicy food wouldn’t appeal much to their taste.
Also, some people are naturally less sensitive to the pungency of chili than others.
However, some studies also note that repetitive exposure may not work in the way we think (reducing the individual’s sensitivity to the hotness). Instead, it’s a matter of preference — some consumers learn to prefer the oral burn the more they eat it. For chili dislikers, this shift of affection is not present.
Besides the cultural and biological variables, some people naturally love chili-containing foods based on their personality. A person’s personality may determine whether they like chili or not.
For example, chili pepper is associated with strength and macho in Mexico. Among college students, eating chili is like excitement, so it’s basically something thrill-seeking individuals would like to try.
We’ve seen the several benefits spicy food offers and why some people naturally love it.
Perhaps you don’t know where you stand and only want to try. Or maybe the benefits appeal to you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a catering series to prepare your first spice-rich delicacy!