Most condiments are stuffed with junk – sugar, preservatives, fat, and more! We’re always told to eat less salad dressing, go easy on the ketchup, be wary of sauces. Hot sauce is a great exception to this rule. In fact not only is it diet friendly, including Atkins and ketogenic diets, it has a whole host of health benefits.
Hot sauce packs more taste in fewer calories (and preservatives)
Hot sauce is an incredibly low calorie food. Most sauces are loaded with sugar and fat, nutritionally they are “empty calories”. With hot sauce, on the other hand, you only need a teaspoon or two for a blast of flavor, and most sauces are under 5 calories per serving! Save 60 calories and 10g of sugar when you swap the bbq sauce for hot sauce the next time you grill.
People who eat spicy foods live longer
Want to live a long and healthy life? Chili peppers may help you do just that! In a study of 500,000, after seven years people who had spicy foods 3-7 times per week had a 14% lower chance of death.
Spicy foods improve brain health
Red chili peppers contain a flavonoid called apigenin, which boosts the connections between brain cells and the formation of neurons. In fact researchers are looking at apigenin as a safer alternative to estrogen treatments, which have been tested to treat certain neurological but which have terrible side effects. They speculate that people may also reap the benefits of these flavonoids when they are consumed in high amounts in food.
Capsaicin, found in hot sauce, has a variety of health benefits
Apigenin isn’t the only good thing in hot sauce, capsaicin, the compound that make chili peppers spicy, has its own health benefits.
Capsaicin helps with weight loss
Hot sauce is a much lower calorie and healthier alternative to most condiments, but the capsaicin inside of it goes above and beyond to help with weight loss. In a massive analysis of 20 different studies, researchers found that capsaicin increased energy expenditure, lipid oxidation, and reduced appetite. That means people who consumed capsaicin burned more calories a day, reduced body fat, and were inclined to eat less!
Capsaicin makes hot sauce an anti-inflammatory food
In animal studies, capsaicin has been found to create anti-inflammatory effects similar to medications that treat arthritic inflammation.
Capsaicin is a cancer-killer
Anti-inflammatory effects aren’t the only medical benefits of capsaicin. A study from 2006 examined the effect of this compound on prostate cancer cells. They found that capsaicin inhibited the growth of the cancer cells, and are looking at using it to help manage cancer.
The capsaicin in hot sauce helps heartburn (you read that right)
If you thought we were done singing praises about the benefits of capsaicin, you are wrong, wrong, wrong!
While it seems counterintuitive, capsaicin can also help with heartburn and digestive issues. When you eat chili peppers (or in our case, hot sauce,) it stimulates receptors in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, reducing the sensation of warmth, pressure, cramping, and pain that are often associated with GI disorders. Scientists are looking to chili peppers as a potential alternative form of treatment for functional dyspepsia and GERD, which are stomach conditions that are less likely to affect people living in countries where chili peppers are a dietary staple.
That’s not to say chomping a chili pepper or taking a swig of hot sauce will help your heartburn! The effects mentioned in the study come from regular consumption of chilis, and in the short term spicy food may make symptoms worse.
Flavor alone is enough of a reason to love hot sauce, but these health benefits just make us love it all the more.
To summarize, health benefits of hot sauce include:
- Low calorie and low carb way to flavor food
- People who consume chilis have a reduced risk of death
- Improves brain health and connection between neurons
- Anti-inflammatory, with effects comparable to arthritis medications
- Inhibits the growth of some cancer cells
- Helps heartburn and gastrointestinal conditions
Ditch the mayo, marinades, and salad dressings and reach for hot sauce the next time you need to spice up your meal!