View a global cuisine map, and you will be surprised to acknowledge that hotter the climate of the country spicier is their food. Top spices that are used to condition food are garlic, thyme, chili, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, bay leaf, mustard, caraway, mint, sage, fennel, ginger, cardamom, bay leaf, coriander, turmeric, white and black pepper and anise seeds.
When I attempted to ascertain grounds for why Indians, Thai, and people living in other tropical countries love to consume spicy food I came across few theories I would wish to partake in.
- You must have discovered that food gets spoiled quickly when the temperature is warm. Hot climate provides a suitable environment for the microorganisms that spoil the food to flourish. Spices being anti-microbial checks the growth of bacteria and others microbes.
- No doubt when you eat cold foods, your body temperature falls but this effect last for a minimal period of 15 to 20 minutes. On the other hand, spicy food triggers sweating. Sweating is the body’s own way, to cool down itself, and the effects are long lasting.
- Some other hypothesis is that most of the spices grow in tropical countries and equally they are dominant in these countries. So the people living here use spices to a greater extent in their cooking enhance the taste of culinary arts.
- We cannot refuse the fact that spices have been an important component of the cuisines of hot countries since the historical periods. People being in these nations have been eating spicy food since their childhood and have developed a predilection for them. Eventually, it has become their habit. Bland food no more appeals them.
All above theories to some extent have answered the question that why spicy food is loved by Indians and other people surviving in hot countries.
The active ingredient of fiery or spicy food is capsaicin that excites the pain receptors on the tongue and makes the food taste hot. But do you know that spices in addition to sizzle your taste buds by adding heat, flavor, and taste also offer an extensive list of health benefits?
Hidden health benefits of spicy foods
Spices promote the secretion of Hydrochloric acid and other digestive juices. As a consequence, the blood flow to the stomach increases and there is thinning of the mucus lining of stomach. Chilly is an indispensable element of fiery foods. Capsaicin present in chili kills the H.Pyrori bacteria and prevents the occurrence of stomach ulcers.
2. Ease the symptoms of cold and flu
When you are suffering from cold and flu, you are urged to consume spicy food. The capsaicin present in chili and cayenne pepper promotes sweating, opens the nasal passage and eases the symptoms of cold, flu and sinusitis.
3. Promotes blood circulation
Spicy foods are rich in vitamin C and A. Spices strengthens the blood vessels. It Increases the body temperature that in turn increases the flow of blood and also promotes heart pumping.
4. Promotes weight loss
Capsaicin helps in metabolism and calorie burning. More the calorie burn more is the weight loss. One more benefit of spicy food is that it renders the feeling of fullness and makes you eat less.
5. Improves breathing
Black and white peppers are natural expectorant. If you have asthma, emphysema, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory issues, then spicy food with hot peppers will make breathing easy for you by opening the nasal passage and throwing out the phlegm.
6. Enhances mood
Chili and peppers promotes the secretion of serotonin and endorphins. Both the hormones are known to relieve anxiety and lift your mood. Eat spicy food to relieve stress and fight depression.
7. Improves sleep
Research shows that individuals consuming fiery meals falls asleep easily and sleep sound as compared to others and when they woke they feel energized throughout the day.
8. Prevents cancer
Chili, Curry leaves, and other spices contain antioxidants that fight free radicals and retards the growth of cancer causing cells. Capsaicin is known to kill the cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
9. Keeps heart healthy
Hot peppers can dissolve blood clots. Also, studies show that spicy foods lower the level of bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart diseases such as stroke and heart attack.
10. Eases pain
If you are suffering from shingles, arthritis or even headache or stomach ache add spices to your food. A concentrated amount of capsaicin eases inflammation and acts as natural pain killers.
You have now ten positive and healthy reasons to add spices to your food. But everything has good as well as bad sides. Eating too much of spicy food may lead to particular health issues you will surely want to avoid. Let’s have a look:
Adverse effects of consuming too much spicy foods
Your digestive system may find too much spicy food disagreeable. If you are suffering from stomach ulcers then hot and spicy meal may worsen your condition as they produce too much heat. But yes, spicy food does not cause stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcers are caused due to infections and pain medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
Some individuals complain of heart burn after consuming fiery meal food. To confirm this maintain a diary and note down whenever you suffer from heartburn, foods you eat and heart burn symptoms. This way you will find that fiery food don’t cause heartburn but if you are suffering from acid reflux it will worsen the symptoms.
If you often suffer from heart burn better eat small meals in short intervals. Do not lie or exercise immediately after eating. Avoid fatty food, caffeine, and alcohol. Avoid drinking soda along with your meal and chew your food properly before swallowing. In case you have heart burn then chew a chewing gum to increase salivation. This will ease the food movement and reduce the symptoms of heartburn. Avoid chewing gums with mind flavour.
Do not sleep immediately after having spicy food or you may have trouble in sleeping. Also, avoid eating extremely fiery food during night time as it interferes with body’s natural cooling system and causes insomnia.
4. Burning and pain
Extreme fiery food instead of giving pleasure may burn your mouth and oesophagus, and instead of being enjoyable it becomes painful experience.
Extreme hot food irritates the stomach lining and causes diarrhoea.
I guess this article has given you enough information about fiery foods. Enjoy spicy meals without any guilt of harming your health, but avoid extreme fiery food to prevent its adverse effects.