Hello, everyone! I hope everyone’s semester is going swell so far. I can’t believe it’s already week 9! While we work our butts off for midterms, I think the world also wants us to freeze our butts off. Honestly California, your 50 degree weather feels like -50 degrees. (LOL, can you tell I’ve lived in SoCal my whole life?) Because I’m not good with the cold, I sometimes enjoy bringing warmth (actually more like flamin’ heat) into my life by consuming spicy food!
I’m sure we’ve all experienced tasting spicy food before, especially as Asian Americans, and I just wanted to share how this “flavor” not only serves as an icon of Asian culture, but also benefits our well-being. I say “flavor” because spiciness is not a flavor; our tongues can only taste five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (a meaty-kind of flavor). Spiciness is a sensation! It’s basically pain, but why is it so popular and why do people want more of it? That’s because spiciness signals our bodies to reverse its painful effects with “feel-good” ones.
Peppers have compounds called capsaicin, which causes our bodies to respond with heat and pain. Then, these responses trigger our bodies to release endorphins, hormones that help alleviate pain, and dopamines, neurotransmitters that give us a sense of reward. Therefore, in the end, we feel a sense of euphoria once we consume a certain amount of spicy food. However, in addition to the euphoric experience, spiciness can also be healthy. Here are some quick facts about spicy food!
It’s kind to the heart: hot peppers were found to increase levels beneficial cholesterol (HDL) and lower levels of less desirable hormones (LDL) while promoting blood circulation.
It helps with weight-loss as the spicy sensation increases our satiety and therefore prevents us from overeating.
It can be a “benefactor” to gastric ulcers. Despite the myth that spicy foods create holes in our stomachs, capsaicin actually helps fight the bacteria that cause ulcers.
Wow, it is 2 a.m. right now, and these facts make me want to have some mango habanero wings (omg). Anyways, back to the topic, I hope you all feel somewhat better about spicy food, and I highly recommend giving spicy food another chance if you haven’t already!
Fortunately, Los Angeles has tons of spicy food options, few of which are ddeokbokki from Yup Dduk, hot chicken from Howlin’ Rays’, and chiles toreados tacos from Guisados. Consider these foods for your next food adventure, and you’ll be hot inside and out.
Stay spicy everyone.
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