Some people love eating spicy foods, and some people hate it. But like it or hate it, is eating spicy food healthy? Let’s talk about the effects of eating spicy food.
One of the benefits of eating spicy food could be weight loss. Capsaicin, one of the sources of spiciness in chilies, may be able to help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism. Capsaicin raises body temperatures, which causes your body to burn more calories.
Metabolism may not be the only thing going on with hot foods and weight loss. Increasing feelings of fullness may be another spicy food benefit. Some studies suggest that an appetizer eaten with hot sauce can lead to lowered overall caloric intake in the rest of the meal. If this is true, spiciness may act as an appetite suppressant and help you to avoid overeating.
3. Heart Health
For all that heartburn can sometimes be an unpleasant effect of eating spicy food, spicy dishes may actually be able to help protect your heart! Studies have found correlations between eating spicy food and lowered incidence of stroke and heart attack. The reasons for this are not completely understood, but it could have to do with capsaicin’s ability to fight inflammation and chilies’ ability to help prevent blood clotting.
4. Lowered Cholesterol
Another potential benefits of eating spicy food is lowered cholesterol. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that when mice on a high cholesterol diet were given capsaicinoids, they demonstrated lower total cholesterol levels than those who did not receive the capsaicinoids.
5. Cleared Sinuses
Whether you’ve got a cold or allergies, spicy food can sometimes help you to clear your nasal passages (and if your nose has ever run after eating something spicy, you’ve experienced this). So, next time you’re stuffed up, try drinking a cup of hot tea with a pinch of cayenne pepper. You may find your new favorite stuffy nose cure!
While we can clearly see that there are a lot of benefits to eating spicy food, there can always be too much of a good thing. Eating too much spicy food can sometimes lead to negative effects. Let’s look at some of them.
1. Stomach Upset
We’ve all had the experience sometimes where we’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with us. And while it certainly doesn’t always (or even usually) come down to spice, it is also true that excessive spiciness can sometimes lead to an upset stomach.
It should be noted that while some people believe that ulcers can be caused by eating too much spicy food, the current medical opinion is that the majority of these sores come either because of bacterial infections or because of pain medications like naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen. If you already have an ulcer, you may want to tread with caution, as too much heat may make your ulcer worsen. However, if you don’t have one already, it doesn’t seem likely that eating spicy food will give you one.
As mentioned earlier, some people experience heartburn when they eat too much spicy food. If you think there’s a connection between eating spicy food and your heartburn, try keeping a diary of what you eat and when you have heartburn symptoms. This can help you to find what is actually causing your symptoms.
Other things you can try include eating smaller servings, avoiding eating just before dinner, reducing the amount of fat in your diet, not drinking soda with your meals, walking after your meals and losing weight. And if you start having heartburn, try chewing a stick of gum. The increased saliva can help to ease the symptoms and help the food move downward. For help with heartburn, don’t use mint gum, as mint-flavored gum may relax the valve closing the stomach off from the esophagus.
Some people experience diarrhea after eating spicy food. One cause of this seems to be that spicy food can irritate the stomach’s lining. If you experience diarrhea after eating spicy food, try easing up and avoiding extremely hot foods.
We mentioned earlier that raising metabolism was one potential benefit of eating spicy food. Well, if you eat spicy food just before bed, that same blessing can be a curse! Spicy food can sometimes interfere with your body cooling down in preparation for sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep just after eating spicy food, try avoiding extreme spiciness just before bed. Either move dinner a couple hours earlier or move your truly scorching dishes to lunchtime.
Sometimes eating spicy food is fun, and sometimes it’s just painful. When food is too spicy, it just ceases to be pleasant. Here at Fitness Republic, we think food should be enjoyed, not endured. So if you’re dumping chilies onto your meal to try and prove your masculinity and you are simply not enjoying what you eat, try taking it down a notch and see if dinnertime is more pleasant.