Some Like It Hot

We are here today to honor International Hot and Spicy Food Day, which is celebrated around the world on January 16th.

Eating ‘hot’ is not new; people have been using spicy seasonings since 7500 BC when chili peppers were first domesticated in Mexico.

Today, virtually every cuisine around the world uses some kind of chili pepper or another source of ‘hot and spicy’ like peppercorns, horseradish, wasabi, and mustard.

What Makes Chili Peppers so Hot?

red chili peppers in white background

Ever wondered what makes hot food like chili peppers so hot?

It is because they contain a chemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin attaches itself to your mouth’s receptors, ‘telling’ you how hot your food is.

Different peppers contain different amounts of capsaicin. The Scoville Scale was invented to measure a food’s level of ‘hotness.’

A jalapeno pepper has 2500-8000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) while tabasco averages between 30,000-50,000 SHU. Habanero peppers, long considered to be the hottest on the planet, have an average heat rating of 200,000-350,000 SHU!

Why Hot and Spicy Is Good for You

chili powder in a bowl white backgroundHot and spicy can transform a boring dish into one with an exciting blend of tastes.

The best news of all is that hot, spicy food is also great for your health!

Eating hot and spicy may:

  1. Reduce Unhealthful Cravings: According to research from Purdue University, the capsaicin inside red chili peppers reduces cravings for fatty, sweet, and salty foods, and can reduce calorie consumption by approximately 75 calories per meal.
  2. Burn Calories: Data across numerous studies indicate that certain spices such as cumin, turmeric, peppers, and chilies elevate the body’s core temperature and can boost metabolism and energy expenditure.
  3. Help Prevent Cancer: Turmeric (found in curry and some mustards) has been shown to be beneficial in cancer prevention by slowing the growth of tumors and decreasing the spread of cancer throughout the body. Capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers, has also been shown to slow and destroy cancer cells.
  4. Reduce Inflammation: Curcumin (a compound in turmeric) may reduce inflammation, while the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and garlic have been used for centuries to treat a range of conditions including arthritis and autoimmune disorders.
  5. Extend Longevity: According to a 2015 study by Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, eating spicy food 6-7 days a week (even just once a day) may lower mortality rates by 14 percent.  Also, the consumption of hot red chili peppers has been associated with a 12 percent absolute reduction in total mortality in a large prospective cohort study from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey.

Hot and Spicy Tofu and Dr. Rosane OliveiraHow to Celebrate International Hot and Spicy Food Day

Of course, the best way to celebrate International Hot and Spicy Food Day is to eat hot and spicy food!

To help you do that, here’s a great recipe for Hot and Spicy Tofu.

A real treat for this special occasion!