Do you crave spicy salsas, fiery curries, or hot wings? Do you drown your meals in Frank's RedHot, Sriracha, or Tapatio? Do you live for the crunch of peppers followed by tingling in your mouth and sweat on your brow? Do you carry a spare bottle of hot sauce on your person at all times?
We've got great news for you, fiery food fanatic. Hot sauce doesn't just tickle your taste buds, it can also give your health a boost in a major way. Those habanero peppers aren't just setting your tongue ablaze, they're kickstarting your body into serious action. Experts agree that spicy food can do wonders for your body thanks to capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers. Here are 7 science-backed health benefits of hot sauce.
1. Hot sauce helps weight loss.
Hot sauce can contribute to weight loss in several ways. First, capsaicin can temporarily increase your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories efficiently. This translates to kickstarting your body to lose weight, making it effective for weight management. Capsaicin is found in peppers ranging from your basic red chili peppers to those on the Scoville scale that could close your airways instantly.
Second, unlike many other sugary or fatty condiments (make them yourself!), hot sauce also adds flavor without adding calories. Finally, cooking with hot sauce can prevent overeating by encouraging you to take small bites and eat more slowly.
2. Hot sauce is packed with essential minerals and vitamins.
Hot peppers come with high doses of essential minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, including vitamin C and vitamin A. The antioxidants in hot sauce contain anti-aging properties, and can help to decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Vitamin C, in turn, can prevent colds and may event help ward off heart disease and cancer, according to health professionals.
Red pepper, in particular, provides these basic necessities. Sprinkling cayenne pepper or using crushed red pepper as a main ingredient also does the trick of smothering something in hot sauce if you're looking for the health benefits.
3. Hot sauce combats congestion.
When a cold or sinus infection leaves you feeling stuffy, eating spicy food can clear up congestion. Made with capsaicin-packed chile peppers, hot sauce is a powerful ingredient in many homemade, all-natural anti-flu and decongestant remedies.
4. Hot sauce can enhance eye health.
Chipotle pepper, an ingredient in many hot sauces and salsas, is a type of smoked jalapeño that includes phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which contribute to your overall eye health.
Downing hot sauce and other foods with these phytonutrients can help prevent eye disorders and night blindness.
5. Hot sauce can reduce risk of cancer.
By attacking cell mitochondria, the capsaicin in hot sauce can trigger the self-destruction of harmful cancer cells without hurting healthy cells. Hot sauce may be able to reduce risk of cancer development and cancerous cell growth by triggering apoptotic cell death, researchers say.
6. Hot sauce can reduce aches and pains.
Hot sauce may be able to alleviate aches and pains from sprains and strains. That's because capsaicin contains anti-inflammatory properties that help speed up recovery and soothe sore muscles.
7. Hot sauce can reduce stress and depression.
Hot sauce and other spicy foods can promote the production of serotonin and other feel-good hormones. When you get a mouthful of something good 'n spicy, your body starts pumping out endorphins to block the feeling of spicy heat.