Capsaicin: beyond the burn

Hey Insiders! Today I want to explore a craving that I frequently have, and that’s the desire for spicy food. You may have heard that spicy foods offer health benefits, but that’s a pretty vague statement to build a meal around. In this post, I’m going to identify some of the specific reasons spice is nice.

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(Click the image for some spicy trivia!)

 

If I’m playing a game of word association and I hear “spicy,” my next thought might be “pepper.” So what gives peppers their ability to elicit tears and tingle our taste buds? Capsaicin is a compound present in peppers; the quantity varies depending on the type of pepper. For instance, you won’t find any in our watery friend the bell pepper, but you’ll find plenty in a habanero. The hottest peppers will have the highest antioxidant content.

It is speculated that peppers evolved their spicy taste to deter animals, and it’s worked for the most part. Some people don’t enjoy peppers due to the painful sensation they experience when consuming them, however, increased consumption can help to desensitize pain receptors in the mouth and even make peppers pleasurable to eat. But how can pain turn to pleasure?

Our bodies release endorphins to block heat, and capsaicin heats the body. Consuming peppers can actually release endorphins, which can block feelings of pain in the body. It is even rumored that capsaicin can suppress appetite and help with weight loss, though there is not strong data to support this claim as of yet. It may also help prevent prostate cancer.

Spicy peppers with capsaicin also have an obvious benefit for any lover of spice – they are delicious! And enjoying something delicious is a benefit all its own.

Do you like spicy food? What’s your favorite way to get your capsaicin fix?

 

Thanks for stopping by the well!

 

 

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