Why do we Love Spicy Food? The Science Behind the Heat

Why do we Love Spicy Food -CookinGenie blog

09 Sep 2021

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Why do we Love Spicy Food? The Science Behind the Heat

We all know at least one person who loves their food insanely hot. They insist that their hot wings “aren’t spicy enough unless I’m dripping with sweat.”  On it’s face, that doesn’t make sense. Spicy foods cause physical pain, not just in the mouth, but sometime through the entire body. Why would we deliberately eat, and enjoy, something that causes pain? Well, it turns out, there are actually some pretty compelling reasons why so many people around the world love the way it hurts.

Spicy Foods Can Cause a “High”

Spice is not a “flavor” but rather a sensation. The sensation of spice comes from the chemical compound capsaicin, which is the substance that makes hot peppers hot. Capsaicin causes pain and triggers the body to think it’s in danger. In response, the body releases endorphins, which are pleasure causing hormones, this is the body’s way of trying to eliminate the “threat” it feels when you eat spicy food. This chemical release causes some people to associate eating hot foods with happiness, creating a “high”, similar to that of the good feeling you get after exercising.

When the body feels it’s in danger, it will also release the survival hormone adrenaline, which can give someone eating a fiery hot bowl of noodles a sense of heart-pounding excitement, just like if they were riding a roller coaster or bungee jumping. In short, for many, eating hot foods is a kind of thrill seeking.

Hot Peppers are Full of Antimicrobial Properties

It stands to reason that since the chemicals in hot peppers cause us pain, they can also be harmful to bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. Before refrigeration, hot peppers were often used to help preserve food and ward off bacteria in hotter parts of the world. This was integral to food safety; hot peppers were literally life savers.

That’s why hotter countries like India and Mexico have developed very spicy traditional cuisines while more temperate climates like England and Scandinavia produce much more mild food. So, because of these antimicrobial properties found in hot peppers, many cultures created spicy traditional dishes and over generations, billions of people have come to love them.

Hot Food’s Health Benefits

One reason we may love spicy food is because it’s so good for us. Extensive amounts of scientific research point to all kinds of health benefits from eating spicy foods. Capsaicin, the chemical compound found in chili peppers, is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Capsaicin has also been linked to improved digestion, an increased metabolism, better heart health, reduction in cancer risk, and a strengthened immune system. Turns out, hot peppers are one of nature’s true superfoods.

CookinGenie Brings the Heat

At CookinGenie, we offer a range of fiery, delicious dishes that appeal to even the most avid of heat seekers. Try genie Jared’s Red Thai Curry, which uses bird’s eye chili peppers along with a blend of aromatic Thai ingredients to make a vibrant, spicy curry sauce filled with stir-fried vegetables. Perhaps order genie Dylan’s Jerk Chicken, which takes juicy chicken legs and slathers them in a tangy, sweet & spicy Jamaican sauce made from habaneros, ginger, cinnamon, and more.

Whatever, your spice preference may be, CookinGenie can accommodate you. You can always request that a dish be more (or less) spicy, and our genies can even make separate plates so that some portions are really spicy for the heat lover in your family, and the rest are milder. To bring the delicious, healthy heat to your kitchen, book a genie today.

Written by:  Jared Kent


Related Post

29 Oct 2019

Food waste is a growing problem in America. According to a recent study, the average American family of four discards nearly $1600 in discarded produce alone annually. That’s right this post is ode to all those banana’s who never became banana bread. That number is not including dairy, meat or grain waste which are also high on the list. What would it mean for your family to have $133 more in your bank account every month? Factor in dairy, meat, and grain waste and that number climbs much higher.

The waste is also an environmental problem. It contributes to the releasing of dangerous gases as it decomposes in landfills. It’s estimated that one third of all food grown is lost or wasted. In fact, some food is left to rot in fields, shipped to feed livestock, or sadly shipped directly to landfills because it’s not cosmetically pleasing to average Americans. That’s right, we only buy pretty tomatoes. If a fruit or vegetable looks strange, grows oddly or has a blemish, consumers won’t purchase it – even when it’s perfectly fine to eat.

Additionally, families are purchasing food with every intent to use it, but life gets in the way. We’ve all done it. Making dinner was too much work so we grabbed dinner on the way home. Fast forward to the weekend and you’re dumping soggy lettuce out of your crisper drawer before you head to the grocery store to stock up for a new week.

There are lots of creative solutions out there. Some families have taken to composting, or meal prepping to try to cut down on food waste. There is one more solution on the table that more and more families are considering. That is hiring a CookinGenie – someone who shops & cooks your favorite foods – right in your own kitchen.

So how does that address the issue of food waste? Our Genies approach food purchasing, prep, and waste differently. They can use leftovers to cook for the next family on their schedule.

Many times, food waste is a result of not knowing how to create a meal around unused portions. Half an onion and some chicken bones? A family would dispose of that. An experienced cook would make chicken stock for a later meal. Hire our genies allow him or her to shop for highly consumable food items in bulk, he or she will only serve you the food you and your family will want to eat. This is the best use of all the food purchased, effectively reducing food waste immensely. Not to mention cost effective, even with the cost of hiring a person you will most likely end up saving money instead of throwing it away in the form of food that has gone bad and eating meals out. Remember if you are spending less than $1600 a year on this service, you’ll be saving money. Just something to chew on. We look forward to cooking for you & your family once our lives return to normal from the current COVID-19 crisis.

References:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/americans-waste-nearly-a-pound-of-food-each-per-day-study-finds/

Households Lose Up to $1,600 a Year in Food Waste, U of G Study Reveals

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Chicken Tacos

25 Nov 2020

When thinking about famous foods from around the world, some key dishes come to mind. We’re willing to bet Mexican cuisine ranks high on many people’s lists, with tacos at the top. But, have you ever stopped to wonder how the tasty taco came to be?  

It turns out, the history of the taco is as colorful and varied as the taco fillings themselves.  

Tacos as we know them today were believed to have started in the 1800s as the humble lunch of Mexican silver miners. The word “taco” translates to “plug” or “wad” – reflecting the small sticks of dynamite used in the mines.  

There is evidence, however, that the taco’s origins began much earlier.  

It is believed that the Aztecs invented tortillas using masa cooked on hot stones. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, used the tortillas like a spoon to scoop or hold food such as cochineal, beans, and chiles. The word “taco” stems from the Nahuatl word “tlahco,” meaning “half” or “in the middle” in reference to how it is formed. 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

Early taco fillings were simple and reflected what was available, such as fishcooked organs, small insects, ants, locusts, and snails. It wasn’t until the 1500s, when Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico with pigs from Cuba, that pork was introduced as a filling and served at large banquets (the first “taco parties” as documented in 1520 by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a Spanish soldier sailing with Hernan Cortes). From here, the taco spread across the “New World” as a staple food 

Whether crediting the Aztecs or silver miners, the taco is a dish woven through the fabric of Mexican cuisine. 

Into America & Beyond 

Portable and easy to eat, tacos became a primary meal of the working class. In time, street food vendors filled soft corn tortillas with a simple, spicy filling to offer workers on their breaks. Around 1905, this delicious and practical meal crossed the border into the United States when Mexican laborers moved north to work on the railroads.  

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the traditional filling of organs was replaced by beef and chicken. In addition, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese became standard fillings in America  this fusion brought forth by the availability of American ingredients and a more subtle palate.   

While some may prefer more traditional preparation, today, tacos in America include a vibrant blend of traditional Mexican flavors combined with new ingredients and influences from around the globe – a fusion of flavors to satiate a wide variety of tastes.  

Need further evidence of the taco’s cult-like following? In 2019, Netflix released the first season of Taco Chronicles, a docuseries that explores the rich histories of popular taco styles. From barbacoa to carnitas, cochinita to birria, and many others, watch this mouth-watering series on your next taco night.  

Whatever fillings you like, tacos are arguably one of the most-loved foods in the world. Whether you prefer vegetarian sweet potato and black bean, or chicken, pork or beef, CookinGenie offers fresh, authentic home-cooked Mexican-styled tacos to make every night taco night. We cook from scratch with wholesome ingredients, right in your kitchen. Whether meal prepping or organizing a small dinner party, our Genies can help create a taco bar like no other, connecting you back to hundreds of years of tradition and fusion of cultures through food.  

 

Sources 

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28 Mar 2020

The other day, I picked up some ham from an online retailer. It was a premium 8-pound spiral-sliced ham, slow-cooked and smoked for 24 hours featuring a delicious torch-glazed brown sugar crust. Tempted? I certainly was. However, I happened to glance at the nutritional facts & noticed a detail – 41% (990 mg) sodium per serving. Is that good? Or bad? Should I care about this number? Or, just enjoy the ham?

Let us dig deeper.

The terms “Sodium” and “Salt” are sometimes used interchangeably. Salt is made of sodium and chlorine & occurs naturally in some foods, & is added in canned, processed or cooked foods. In the right amounts, in our bodies, sodium is vital. It supports our nervous system, muscles & fluid balance. Take too much though, and you start to see high blood pressure. Additionally, heart & kidney diseases are common effects of having extra sodium in the body.

But, what about my ham? Is it safe to eat? American Heart Association (AHA) suggests having around 1500 mg of Sodium per day. You may be permitted a bit more if you lose body fluids due to sporting activities. This boils down to a teaspoon of salt every day. But, on average 9 out of 10 Americans consume almost double the recommended sodium. Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that of our daily sodium intake, 65% comes from food bought in stores, 25% comes from restaurants and 10% comes from home cooked foods. Eating fresh homemade meals can go a long way in keeping us within the bounds of recommended amounts of Sodium. This is exactly what CookinGenie helps our customers with. All you do is pick your favorite foods from www.cookingenie.com & we will show up with the groceries at your kitchen & cook the food right there. 100% control over what goes in your food.

As for my ham, I did eat it – but now with the awareness that just one serving of the ham gave me almost half the daily sodium I needed for my body for the entire day.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/potassium_and_sodium_out_of_balance

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/9-out-of-10-americans-eat-too-much-sodium-infographic

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