Well, it depends on who you ask.
Traditional Chinese parents would have you believe that spicy foods may be the root of all your problems. But how much truth is really in that? You may be surprised.
A Western doctor or dietitian will encourage you to explore the wonderful world of spices. Capsaicin, the chemical compound found mainly in the seeds and ridges of chili peppers relieves pain, lowers blood pressure, protects the stomach lining, improves circulation and fights inflammation. Chili peppers are also high in Vitamin A and C, which are powerful antioxidants. On top of all of those benefits, spicy foods may also help with weight loss.
If you’re the type that can’t take the heat, then spicy foods can indeed help you lose weight. Spices can aide in weight loss by suppressing your appetite and increasing satiety. It slows down your eating and makes you chug down water between bites. Keep in mind that you might want to drink water instead of dairy to reap the weight loss benefits.
Tumeric, the yellow spice in curry powder is also great for you. Curcumin, a substance in tumeric fights inflammation, acts as an antioxidant and may help kill cancer cells.
Years ago, we believed that ulcers are caused by stress, smoking, alcohol and eating spicy foods. We now know that most ulcers are caused by a bacteria called H. Pylori or by taking medications like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen (NSAIDS) on a regular basis. Having said that, those already diagnosed with bowel disorder or ulcers should avoid spicy foods as it can cause increased discomfort.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, balance between the Yin and the Yang is key. A TCM practitioner will advise you to avoid spicy foods if you have a Yin deficiency. So if you’re experiencing night sweats, greying hair, hot flashes or adult acne, stay away from spicy foods, fried foods, highly refined carbohydrates, and stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes according to Chinese medicine.
Since we’re on the topic, does spicy food really cause acne? Look back on your overall meals for the week. Were any of the dishes cooked with lots of oil? Deep-Fried? Did you touch your face after eating greasy foods? Have you been eating lots of sweets, sugary drinks and other refined carbohydrates? Dairy perhaps? Most likely, your answer is Yes. We now know that acne is caused by eating excessive amounts of sweets and dairy products. Fried foods won’t cause acne but if the grease touches your face, it can clog up the pores.
Let us rejoice! Spicy foods are not at fault for acne.
Bottom Line: Since there is no evidence that spicy foods are bad for you, embrace them for their many health benefits. Just be mindful of the way spicy foods are prepared. A little dash here and there can be a wonderful way to add flavor to foods. So bring on the curry and chili peppers!