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Hot Sauce 101


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Hot Sauce - Good for What Ails You!

Hot Sauce HealthNot only do most hot sauces taste good, they are good for you. Capsaicin, what makes chiles and the sauces and salsas that contain them hot, carry a bunch of benefits (see Health Benefits of Capsaicin).

First off, you can improve digestion by eating them. The spiciness in a hot sauce or a salsa stimulates stomach secretions. Sure, the old wive's tale says that ulcer sufferers should avoid spicy foods, but it turns out that eating hot stuff stimulates blood flow to the stomach and increases its mucous lining. That may help heal ulcers (see Cooking with Heat).

From my own personal experience, they can add zip to healthy, often ordinary table fare. By eating healthier, I have lowered my triglycerides -- the chemical form fat takes in the body and in our blood -- and cholesterol, which is linked to coronary artery disease.

Hot sauces can even battle depression. That's because every time you eat something hot, you release endorphins and endorphins are the natural "happy drug" that your body produces. Endorphins resemble opiates in how they work. They relieve pain and promote a sense of well being. They're often called "natural pain killers" or "the runner's natural high."

Cold Cure. Hot sauce can also treat a cold. Ever eaten salsa while you've had a cold? The hot stuff can be used to clear the sinuses.

Although it's not definitive, eating hot food, including sauces, may reduce high blood pressure.

Hot sauce also may ward off some forms of cancers (see Chillies Turn Up the Heat on Tumors).

New research also points to salsa offering protection against Salmonella, the food-borne pathogen which can cause severe illness, and even death in some cases. Chemist Isao Kubo of the University of California in Berkeley reportedly has found that the main ingredients of salsa -- tomatoes, onions, cilantro and green chiles -- ward off bacteria (see Compound In Salsa May Fight Food Poisoning).

Finally, wanna' lose weight? Pile on the hot sauce. Hot sauces may boost your metabolic rate and can help you eat less and feel satisfied. In other words, it suppresses appetite and increases the number of calories your body burns. In fact, a British study showed that capsaicin when added to breakfast foods or appetizers at lunch caused people participating in the study to eat less during meals as well as afterwards (see The Chile Way to Burn Fat and Boost Metabolism).
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