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Finding Your Source of Health in Hot Sauce

By Skye Sherman  •   April 25, 2022
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Jun 19, 2023

Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman
Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman

Do you like it spicy? You’re not alone! According to Flower City Flavor Company, the hot sauce market “is expected to reach $3.77 billion by 2026.” That’s a lot of people crazy about kicking their food up a few notches!

Many people enjoy the “wake-you-up” heat of hot sauce on various foods. While some foods are naturally meant to be spicy, such as Mexican cuisine and salsas made with jalapeños. In other cases, people add hot sauce to a non-spicy food to give it a more interesting flavor profile. One easy example is eggs. Lots of people love to add hot sauce to their scrambled eggs in the morning. You can add hot sauce to almost anything, from burgers to burritos, tacos, and marinades.

Did you know that beyond the delicious and intense flavor of spicy foods, they actually might be doing something for your health? That’s right… hot sauce has some health benefits. Of course, there are potential risks to eating hot sauce as well, so you need to be careful.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the specific health benefits of hot sauce, what it can do for you, how to manage the potential risks and danger of hot sauce, and the common types of hot sauce and how to eat and serve it. Read on for all you need to know about this fiery food!

The Health Benefits of Hot Sauce

Hot sauce can benefit or improve a variety of health conditions. Hot sauce can be a painful food to eat, so why do so many people like it so much? One of the biggest reasons people train themselves to eat hot sauce is because it can boost your metabolism. That’s right, it can kick your body into high gear to burn fat quicker.

Flower City Flavor Company explains it this way: “Spending hours at the gym and testing different diets can help you trim down, but hot sauce can speed up the process. That’s right: one of the most popular benefits of hot sauce is its ability to burn fat. Chemicals found in chili peppers such as capsaicin can boost the activity and quantity of brown fat cells in your body. These fat cells burn energy instead of storing it the way white fat cells do.”

They also point out that since good hot sauce has very few calories (if any at all), you can add as much to your diet as you’d like to help your body speed up the metabolic process. It also fits into vegan, paleo, and keto diets quite well.

Healthline adds some more to the list of benefits: “Hot sauce is very low in calories and free of carbs, fat, and protein. … Each serving contains a small amount of vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in immune function. This vitamin also acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing harmful compounds called free radicals to protect against inflammation.”

Hot sauce can be healthy because it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancer properties. Believe it or not, hot sauce can help with all the following in one way or another:

● blood pressure

● cancer

● depression

● diabetes

● gut (digestion)

● heart

● inflammation (allergies)

● immune system

● libido

● liver

● mental health

The main reason hot sauce has health benefits is because of its main component, capsaicin. As Healthline explains, “This compound is associated with a long list of benefits, including:

● Pain relief. Capsaicin is sometimes applied topically to help reduce pain. It works by stimulating pain receptors in your body and may help treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy, a type of diabetes-related nerve damage.

● Weight loss. Some research suggests that capsaicin increases your metabolism, boosts fat burning, and decreases appetite, all of which may benefit weight loss.

● Decreased inflammation. Test-tube studies reveal that this compound may lower certain markers of inflammation.

● Cancer prevention. While research in humans is needed, test-tube studies indicate that capsaicin may slow the growth and spread of certain types of cancer cells.”

That’s right: hot sauce can do things like burn fat, slow cancer growth, relieve pain, clear up congestion, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and reduce your risk of various diseases, from diabetes to heart issues. It can even boost your mood with a rush of endorphins. That’s why you probably feel so great when eating your favorite spicy food!

Best of all, the good news is that hot sauce can be for (almost) anyone. As Spoon University puts it, “Even if you don’t like spicy things, there are less spicy hot sauces that can still add enticing flavors to your food and make you a healthier person.” While babies and children should always be kept away from hot sauce, adults can find a mild version that they like, even if they are not huge fans of spiciness!

Can Hot Sauce Be Dangerous? The Potential Risks

Of course, you need to be careful! There’s a reason that many people don’t care for hot sauce. It’s very spicy and can even be dangerous because it can injure you and cause chemical burns if you’re not careful. Healthline sums it up this way: “hot sauce may cause certain side effects, including acid reflux, stomach cramps, and a burning sensation on the skin.”

You also need to make sure not to eat too much hot sauce. Over-consuming hot sauce can worsen acid reflux in some cases as well as worsen IBS, peptic ulcers, and gastritis. Besides causing digestive issues for existing conditions, too much hot sauce can lead to heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

If you’ve ever gotten even a drop of hot sauce in your eye, you know how badly it can burn! If you’re eating hot sauce, never touch your face or eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands. Even just a trace of hot sauce on your hands can get into your eyes, nose, or mouth and burn very badly.

You should also be aware that eating hot sauce can trigger heartburn. Spicy foods are one of the top culprits that can cause heartburn or a sour stomach. Another thing to think about is probably gross, but you should be aware so you’re not surprised by it: when you poop after eating spicy foods, it can burn on the way back out, as well!

Still, for some people, even with the potential risks and drawbacks of spicy food, it’s worth it to eat their favorite foods with a kick. Note that when eating a super-spicy food, it’s normal for your eyes and nose to water, and you may even start to sweat if the sauce is spicy enough. You may feel like your mouth and tongue are on fire but it will pass! Drinking a little bit of milk or eating ice cream can help soothe the burn.

Most Common Types of Hot Sauce

In its most basic form, hot sauce is a condiment made from chili peppers. But from there, the options are almost endless!

Some of the most common and popular brands of hot sauce include Cholula, Crystal, El Yucateco, Frank’s Red Hot, Melinda’s, Tabasco, Tapatio, and Texas Pete. Also, many global cuisines have a type of hot sauce in their dishes, from Mexican-style hot sauce to spicy Korean sauces. There’s hot sauce made from cajun peppers, green pepper sauce, Sriracha from Thailand, Indonesian sambal oelek, chili-garlic sauce, gochujang, harissa, and more.

Hot sauce can come in a variety of colors, consistencies, flavors, and ingredients.

Be aware that while a healthy hot sauce can into a healthy, balanced diet, not all hot sauces are created equal. Some are loaded up with sodium, additives, and other unhealthy ingredients that will do more harm than good. Steer clear of hot sauces that have a lot of unnecessary ingredients or that contain a lot of artificial additives, preservatives, or food dyes.

When shopping for a healthy hot sauce, read the label and pick an option that has only a few simple ingredients, like peppers, vinegar, salt, and spices. Anything beyond that is probably unnecessary, and probably unhealthy.

How to Serve and Eat Hot Sauce

The main thing you need to be aware of when eating hot sauce is it’s not meant to be something you drown or dowse your food in. A couple drops will do the trick! It’s not necessarily meant to be a full-on sauce or dip in many cases, but rather a little addition to top off a food. Don’t add too much hot sauce (or anything spicy) to a meal without taste-testing it, because you could ruin the dish and cover up the flavor with too much spice.

One of the most popular ways to eat hot sauce is on spicy wings. You can make your own at home or go out to eat to try some delicious hot wings. You can add hot sauce to almost any food or dish, from meat to pasta to cocktails. The choice is yours!

Add a little dash of hot sauce to your next meal and see how you like it! There are so many different hot sauce flavors and varieties out there to try. Once you start liking it, you’ll want to sample them all!



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.