Eating Spicy Foods: The Hidden Benefits and the Potential Pitfalls
Nutrition
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June 26, 2020
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Pros and cons of Eating Spicy Foods

Do you love eating spicy foods? Well, that hot sauce does come with some healthy advantages, but it’s important that you select your foods wisely to reap the most benefits with the smallest number of drawbacks. Keep reading to see what we mean.

The Benefits of Eating Spicy Foods 

If you’re using hot sauce to add flavor to a meal that’s already high in nutritional value, it might do even more to make the dish a healthy one. For example, it might help reduce the amount of systemic cellular inflammation in your body, which can affect your risk of developing diseases like cancer. That’s great news for those who love eating spicy foods!

In addition to that, a study published in the British Medical Journal suggested that individuals who consumed spicy foods on most days of the week might have a reduced risk of dying compared to individuals who consumed spicy foods only once every week.

Also, researchers have found evidence that suggests the bioactive ingredients, like capsaicin, in spicy foods might help reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as help reduce inflammation. There might also be a positive effect on a variety of conditions, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver, hypertension, stroke, cardiac hypertrophy, and atherosclerosis.

And, according to Penn Medicine, the benefits of eating spicy foods include an increase in metabolism that can support weight loss, along with a reduction of inflammation in the gut. Wow!

The Potential Drawbacks  

Sure, eating spicy foods can have its perks, but, as you already know, to reap the most benefits from your diet, you need to choose your ingredients carefully.

Many hot sauces are added to foods that are high in sodium, fat, and calories. Therefore, if you aren’t eating healthy foods with your hot sauce, you might still be contributing to an increased risk of developing a variety of problems.

What are some of the spicy foods that you should limit?

Food

Issue of Concern

Tacos

Calories, fat sodium. Many Tacos come packed in fatty, high Calorie meats, which are only made worse by deep-fried shells. When possible, choose lean meats and soft corn shells, which are lower in Calories and not fried. Skip cheese and sour cream in favor of fresh salsa and small amounts of guacamole. 

Wings

Calories, fat, sodium. Even baked wings are high in Calories (packing about 100 per wing) thanks to the fattiness of wing meat. High-sodium sauces compound the issue, as does volume: let’s face it, most people don’t stop at three wings.

Pizza

When was the last time you stopped at a single slice of pizza? One that wasn’t Costco-sized, that is? 1-2 slices of a medium pie typically contain the number of Calories appropriate for a single meal. Any more than that and you’re dramatically increasing your consumption of Calories, fat, and sodium.

Ramen, Pho

Both instant and authentic ramen and pho will usually be high in sodium, carbs, and calories. And, if you add hot sauce, such as sriracha, you will be adding even more sodium to your meal, which you don’t want to do.

Eggs

If you like adding hot sauce to your eggs, you’re adding sodium, so consider the other ingredients that you use to prepare and flavor your eggs. Butter, oil, cheese, and other add-ons that are high in calories and salt can quickly make this an unhealthy meal.

As you can see, consuming spicy foods has its benefits, as long as you are adding hot sauce to meals that contain nutritious ingredients!

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