Enough with the dangers of diet and environment for now. Let’s have some fun. Today, let’s talk about hot sauce. Whether you are a fan or not I think you will find this interesting. Hot sauce is an acquired taste. The first step is to comprehend that while there is a very real burning sensation being perceived, it is only a trick being played on the brain. Hot sauce contains molecular compounds that bind with the temperature detection receptors on your tongue, creating the sensation of burning without inflicting any physical harm.
Once you are assured that hot sauce is perfectly safe, you can begin to build a tolerance. Why would you want to do that you may ask? Well, there are several reasons. There are many nuanced flavors in spicy foods. Many of the peppers used in making hot sauces have very distinct floral properties. Hot sauces that are hot just for heat’s sake are not enjoyable. A hot sauce should be about the journey, not the destination. A great hot sauce will walk you down a path, slowly. Notes of floral and citrus may abound, smoke and peat, all while the temperature rises. As the heat increases your brain may begin to deliver endorphins and dopamine in an attempt to abate the pain, causing a sense of euphoria. Once you have arrived at the end of your journey and the heat begins to subside, you can take another bite and do it all over again.
Capsaicin may be flavorless and odorless, but capsaicin is a molecular compound that can bring the heat! Our bodies physically respond with an anti-inflammatory reaction that is known to relieve pain in the teeth, joints, and skin. Capsaicin is capable of attacking prostate cancer cells at nearly every stage of growth, as well as regulate your blood pressure, increase your metabolism and clear your sinuses. You probably already knew that last one though.
In addition to all of these amazing properties, the peppers used in hot sauces create their vibrant color through a process known as anthocyanin biosynthesis. This process creates powerful antioxidants that are unique to each hue. Red chiles get their color from the capsanthin compound, which is understood to slow the growth of cancer cells. Green chile peppers are high in both lutein and zeaxanthin phytonutrients, which are extremely beneficial to health by protecting against macular degeneration and cataracts. Yellow and orange peppers are high in violaxanthin, another carotenoid or pigment that is suggested to reduce the incidence of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, immune and other degenerative diseases.
Eat the rainbow. Every pepper has unique properties that are beneficial to your health and well-being. If you are not innately drawn to spicy foods, just take it slow and develop the taste and tolerance over time. The food landscape in America is shifting towards spicier and spicier foods. Look no further than the snack aisle at your local grocery store to see this trend for yourself.