Hot Stuff – Spicy Food and Your Health


You might be thinking about including more fresh and dried chili pepper in your diet –  eating spicy foods daily has now been linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, heart and lung diseases and diabetes.

A new study has found that people who ate spicy foods almost every day had a relative 14 percent lower risk of death compared to those who consumed spicy foods less than once a week. Those who consumed spicy foods one or two days a week were at a 10 percent reduced risk of death.

So should we all start sprinkling hot sauce on everything? Not necessarily. The connection between spicy foods and longer life is a preliminary finding. And even if tongue-tingling meals are the key to immortality (or a reasonable facsimile) pre-made hot sauces may not deliver the benefits. The researchers believe that some of the bioactive ingredients found in fresh chilies may be responsible for the health boost.  Fresh chili is rich in capsaicin, vitamin C and other nutrients. Fresh and dried chili peppers were the most commonly used spices for those surveyed who reported eating spicy foods weekly.

The study’s authors have called for more research that may “lead to updated dietary recommendations and development of functional foods”.

How About Hot Sauce?

As noted above, the jury is still out on whether pre-packaged hot sauce can improve your health. That said,  previous research has suggested that capsaicin may have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-cancer properties. Don’t start swilling it if you have a sensitive stomach, obviously – this research is also in the early stages. (Though if you do want to increase your tolerance for hot stuff, there are some good tips here.)

Hot sauce can enhance your financial health too. The guy responsible for the bottle of “rooster sauce” in your pantry was profiled in this article on Sriracha. David Tran, founder of Huy Fong, started his spicy empire in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. The logo honors his Chinese birth year sign, and he began his business by hand-painting his logo onto a blue van which he used to deliver his hot sauces to local Asian restaurants. Now, it’s a cult classic.

Spicy Foods and Weight Loss

There are numerous studies indicating that hot peppers can curb your appetite. A study conducted at Purdue University found that people who didn’t eat red peppers regularly but who were given cayenne pepper in their food experienced a decrease in appetite for fatty, salty and sweet foods. Several studies have found that spicy foods raise levels of a certain appetite-suppressing hormone.

Dr. Spiro Antoniades, a spinal surgeon in Maryland, wrote a book called “The Hot Sauce Diet: A Journey in Behavior Modification.” As a college student on a budget, Antoniades discovered that he could make a whole pizza last longer by dousing one piece with hot sauce and hot peppers and eating just that one atomic slice per meal.  Later Antoniades found that when he liberally used hot sauce he consumed less food, ate his meals more slowly and drank more water. (We have no opinion on whether the hot sauce diet works or not, in case you’re wondering.)

Hot Stuff And Your Teeth?

Fresh and dried chili peppers are likely to be better for your teeth enamel than hot sauce, which often contains acids such as vinegar and citrus juice. Acid is ranked by its pH level, pH of 7 is neutral, and foods with a pH of 4 and lower can cause significant tooth enamel loss.

Citrus has different pH levels. Oranges are 3.7-4.3, where lemons and limes can go as low as 2. Fresh tomatoes have a pH of about 4.3-4.9, but the canned tomatoes or tomato purees that are probably in your favorite bottle of hot sauce likely have a pH of 3.3. Combine citrus and tomato and you get an enamel-eating horror, most hot sauces clock in at 2.5-2.8 ph.

You don’t have to cease consuming hot sauce though (yay!). Just rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after your meal. Don’t brush right away, your enamel has likely softened after its bath in citrus and vinegar and you can further damage it with a brisk brushing.

Obviously, regular checkups and dental care will help keep your teeth strong too. If you’ve been putting off a visit to the dentist due to budget issues, a dental savings plan makes oral health affordable. Call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.


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