How spicy do you like it? Many people enjoy that tongue-tingling, lip-burning sensation that comes from eating hot sauces, which contain the scorching heat of chile peppers. Some people may prefer a milder heat with more flavor while others (who seem down-right crazy to the rest of us) just can’t seem to find a hot sauce they can’t handle. Thankfully, there’s a chile pepper (and a variety of hot sauces) to match any mark on the Scoville scale.
While you may already love the spicy stuff for your own reasons, today we’re here to explain a whole new set of reasons why hot sauce should be a staple condiment in your kitchen. From weight-loss support to cancer-fighting properties, let’s take a look at these seven healthy benefits of hot sauce…
1. High in Vitamin C
Hot sauce is primarily made from chile peppers, along with other spices and seasonings, and chile peppers contain high levels of vitamin C. In fact, one ounce of sliced jalapeño peppers contains about 40 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 66-percent of your daily requirement. Vitamin C is essential for health skin, teeth and bones and plays a vital role in our bodies metabolism, immune system, healing wounds and development of connective tissue.
Vitamin C is also as antioxidant (which we’ll talk more about later) which means it destroys free radicals that can damage our cells. So the next time you’re looking for a vitamin C hit, think twice before reaching for the orange juice and consider a spicy kick instead.
2. Burns Calories and Curbs Appetite
If you’re working on your healthy diet and looking to lose weight, there are a few benefits you can reap from a bottle of hot sauce. Red cayenne peppers, a common chile used in hot sauces contain compounds called capsinoids. Several studies, including this one from the National Institutes of Health, have shown that these compounds help your body to activate more “brown fat” (a healthy body fat which burns calories when initiated) which burns calories by having a thermogenic effect on the body.
Using hot sauce has also been shown to lower the amount of food you’re eating by extend the duration of meal times. Dr. Spiro Antoniades, now a spinal surgeon in Maryland, conducted a self-study when he was in University and looking to lose weight. He started eating hot sauce with every meal and found that he consumed less food, drank more water, took more time to eat his meals and he ended up losing about 70 pounds by eating a balanced diet using these techniques. He even wrote a book documenting his journey with this spicy sauce.
3. High in Antioxidants
We’ve already discussed how chile peppers are full of vitamin C, but that’s certainly not where the benefits end. They also contain vitamin A, flavonoids and many antioxidants. These antioxidants have a few health benefits of their own including anti-aging properties, reducing and preventing inflammation and even helping to lower blood pressure.
Hot sauce containing chipotle peppers (which are smoked jalapeños) contain the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which contribute to eye health and help prevent degeneration of eye sight caused by aging.
4. Sinus Clearing
Coming down with a cold is never fun, and we’ve all got our own unique remedies to help combat the symptoms. The next time you’re suffering from blocked sinuses due to a cold or allergies, consider reaching for that bottle of hot sauce.
The peppery-punch of chile peppers has helped some people clear their sinuses and provide (at least temporary) relief from stuffy sinuses. Try mixing a cup of boiling water with a bit of honey, lemon juice and as many dashes of hot sauce as you can handle. Allow to cool slightly and drink to reap the sensational benefits of all these cold-fighting ingredients. The sweet, spicy, sour contrast is actually quite pleasant and easy to drink!
5. Relieves Joint Pain and Inflammation
Have you ever wondered what gives chiles their heat? It’s a plant compound called Capsaicin and besides being responsible for burning your lips off, this substance has many health benefits, most of which are still being explored. One of the benefits of capsaicin is that it helps reduce joint pain and inflammation in the body.
This can be great for post-workout muscle recovery or for those who suffer from joint pain caused by arthritis. Capsaicin is also known for it’s analgesic properties (aka pain relief) and is so powerful that it’s been used as an ingredient in pain-relief creams. The hotter the chile, the more capsaicin is present and thus the effectiveness of these benefits is increased.
6. It’s Cancer Fighting
Another major benefit of the substance known as capsaicin and a major area of scientific study is the cancer-fighting benefits it can provide. National Institute of Health studies have shown that capsaicin causes human cells (primarily cancer cells) to undergo something called apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death, which has been seen in human breast cancer cells.
This topic continues to be studied very closely as we are only beginning to learn the cancer-fighting benefits of capsaicin, for example we do not know how much of the capsaicin we eat actually enters the blood stream or how long it remains there. The state of New Mexico (which consumes high quantities of New Mexico chiles) has an overall lower occurrence of cancer compared with every other state in America. This correlation has not been scientifically proven to be linked with the chile pepper consumption but the link is indeed interesting!
7. It’s a Good Mood Food
There are some foods which have been scientifically proven to improve your mood and give you that feel-good sensation after eating them and hot sauce is one of them thanks to the presence of capsaicin. This is because when you eat enough of this spicy substance, your body starts to produce endorphins to combat the pain you experience from the heat, and we all know how good endorphins can make you feel!
Some extreme heat seekers even report that after eating a lot of spice their body will start tingling, hands and arms will go numb and they will even get light headed and euphoric. Of course these are extreme examples of the endorphin-producing effects of capsaicin and it’s important to remember that for some, the pain of the heat can far outweigh any ‘good vibrations’ you experience.