We all know at least one person who loves spicy food, even just a chili pepper in particular. For people who don't like spicy things that much, this sounds crazy. Even more, when you realize that spicy foods can cause physical pain, not only in the mouth, but sometimes in the whole body.
So why do we eat it on purpose and why do we enjoy something that causes us pain? Turns out there are some pretty compelling reasons why people love spicy food!
Spicy foods can cause a more or less "high" state.
More than an aroma, spicy spices are also sensations. The sensation of spice comes from the chemical compound capsaicin, which is the substance that makes peppers hot.
Capsaicin causes pain and makes the body think it is in danger. In response, the body releases endorphins, which are hormones that cause pleasure. This is the body's way of trying to eliminate the "threat" it feels when eating spicy food. This chemical release causes some people to associate eating hot foods with happiness.
When the body senses it is in danger, it will also release the survival hormone adrenaline. In short, for many people, eating spicy foods is a kind of exciting sensation.
Chili peppers are full of antimicrobial properties
It stands to reason that since the chemicals in chili peppers cause us pain, they can also be harmful to bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.
Copious amounts of scientific research point to all sorts of health benefits from eating spicy foods. Capsaicin, the chemical compound found in chili peppers, is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Capsaicin has also been linked to improved digestion, a faster metabolism, better heart health, reduced cancer risk and a strengthened immune system. Apparently, chili peppers are one of nature's true superfoods.
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