January 16 is International Hot and Spicy Food Day. Do you like the kick of chilies? Crave the warmth of ginger? Sneak in a dash of hot sauce when no one is looking?
Spicy foods are a staple for many cultures – and those who like it, revel in the hot singe of the active spice ingredient in chilies: capsaicin. But did you know that the taste of spicy foods isn’t a taste at all? Unlike the other primary tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami – the zip from spicy foods is actually a sensation – not a taste. When you eat spicy food, it triggers your trigeminal nerve which carries tactile information to the brain. This nerve is the same one that is in action when you drink a carbonated beverage or suck on a menthol candy. So, you do not actually taste spicy foods – you feel them!
Chilies and spicy foods also have the ability to perk up your mood. When you ingest a something spicy – your brain releases endorphins to compensate for the burning sensation – which has a mood boosting effect.
And last but not least, adding a bit of heat to your dishes is a great way to kick up the flavor without adding unnecessary fats or salt – helping you to keep on track!
Want to add a little fire to your menu? Try one of these piquant recipes today!