After watching one of my favorite vloggers, the Makingithappen YouTube channel and how they accepted the challenge of eating spicy noodle, I have deliberated about writing a specific topic about spicy foods. So, everything you need to know about spicy foods is written here if you read on and you would also learn the benefits.
What is spicy? Is it really a taste or a flavor?
Without beating around the bush, spicy is not even a taste or a flavour. There are only five types of flavour namely: sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami. Spicy is a feeling perceived when a certain food reaches our brain brought by taste receptors. These taste receptors are from gustatory cells located in our taste buds which are responsible for the transfer of sensation from the tongue to our brain.
To know more about the physiology of spicy, you can watch this video.
But why is it painful when we eat spicy foods after a while?
Spicy is not a taste or a flavour but it’s a sensation of pain in the taste buds. Chilli pepper and other spicy foods contain capsaicin which is a compound that gives off this burning and spicy sensation.
Health benefits of spicy foods
1. Can relieve stomach ache and help avoid cancer
I couldn’t believe it too after finding out that spicy foods help in relieving stomach ache, ironically. But according to new researches, chili peppers can reduce stomach bleeding, lower the gastric acid our body produces and lower the risk of getting a peptic ulcer by 53 %.
Another study in the United Kingdom also found out that capsaicin can kill lung and pancreatic cancer cells.
2. Helps lose weight
You probably find it logical, whenever you eat spicy foods, you sweat a lot, that’s why you lose weight from burned calories. Hmm, it’s right. Not only that, but research also supported this theory. Capsaicin can increase metabolism and decrease appetite, helping you to burn more calories and eat less.
3. May give you longer life
Maybe that’s a reason that some of these Chinese takeouts bring us to sweating not because the people prefer it hot and spicy, but because it’s part of their diet to a longer life. There’s a research in China which revealed that those who eat spicy foods almost every day have a 14% lower risk of death compared to those who only eat spicy foods only once or twice a week.
4. Prevents risk of heart diseases
Do you still remember Capsaicin? That compound responsible for the hot and spicy feeling happens to trigger the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known to be a vasodilator, that means it relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels which leads to increased circulation and lowered blood pressure. Inadequate and inefficient circulation in the body can lead to heart diseases.
5. Provides vitamins and minerals
Jalapeños alone are already rich in minerals, fiber and vitamins, aside from that, they are also low in calories.
6. Good for your eyes
Oops, please don’t rub pepper in your eyes. You can eat chili pepper by mouth but be careful on handling it, and again, don’t ever rub it in your eyes. Like mentioned above, spicy is not a flavour or a taste, so if your unprotected and chili pepper-contacted hand connect with your eyes, you will also feel the burning sensation due to the trigeminal nerve which transmits pain.
Chipotle peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals as well, but what makes them good for your eyes is the lutein and zeaxanthin which are found in these peppers. These nutrients help lower the risk of having eye disorders like cataract and night blindness.
Now that you’ve eaten too many jalapeños, there’s this overwhelming feeling of hot and spicy sensation in your mouth, sometimes radiating in your ears.
Do these things to relieve and remove the burning feeling in your tongue:
- Chug whole milk
It helps dissolve capsaicin and temporarily reduces the pain. But DON’T drink water or beer. It only spreads the compound around your mouth and worsens the burning sensation.
- Pour some sugar
Sugar or even honey can dilute spice. Just mix a tablespoon of sugar into a glass of water and drink it.
- Try eating avocado or banana. The creamy and silky texture of these fruits helps remove capsaicin from the mouth.
- Try rice or bread. The textures of these foods help scrape the compound capsaicin off your tongue.
Other interesting facts about spicy foods you need to know:
- International Hot and Spicy Food Day is celebrated every January 16. (I didn’t know about it)
- Carolina Reaper is the spiciest pepper in the world with a measurement of 2.2 mil SHU.
- Scoville scale is the measurement for hotness or spiciness in food. It is named after the pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. To know how to measure the spiciness, here’s a video on YouTube.
- Let’s get local. Curry &Chili is the 2013’s spiciest currywurst (curry sausage) in Germany. It has a measurement of 7.7 mil SHU. If you ever find yourself in Berlin, Germany soon, and want to try this sausage, here’s the address: Osloer Str., 13359 Berlin
- There’s literally a hot drink but it’s not your normal hot chocolate drink you drink in a cold weather. It is Xocolatl, the original hot chocolate drink and it is spiced with chili peppers. If you’re thinking of making one, here’s the site where you can follow the recipe.
Are you convinced now and want to try eating spicy foods? If you are a beginner, do it slowly and know your taste buds better and your capacity. If you love spicy foods, please do share your spicy food recipes in the comment below. I have my share of spicy foods too and would love to discover more. But do remember, spicy foods can also lead to bad breath. Read this to avoid it and keep your mouth fresh after eating spicy foods or anything which can lead to bad breath.