There are some cultures in the world that are staples to spicy food. There is also a lot of confusion about whether spicy is healthy or dangerous to our health. But there are some researchers that have proven that spicy food provides some healthy benefits to the body and also psychologically.

A large study done in 2015 by Harvard and China National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that:

Eating spicy food six or seven days a week as showed to lower mortality rate by 14% when compared to those who ate spicy foods once a week.

What is the science behind spicy food?

A chemical compound is found in spicy food called capsaicin, which leaves a burning sensation in the mouth. Capsaicin binds to a receptor called TRPV1 which can be found on the surface of sensory organs of the tongue (the taste buds). After binding, these receptors open to allow ions to run through them. These receptors only respond to hot food (high temperature) and do not detect capsaicin. When the interaction between the receptor and capsaicin occurs, this then sends impulses to the nervous system, thereby stimulating the brain to release a warming or burning sensation in the mouth.

This effect triggers thermogenesis; for example, sweating because the brain thinks the body is overheating, thereby trying to reduce the body’s temperature and increase heartbeat because the brain thinks the body is in danger. Also, one of the effects is that the brain release endorphins because it thinks the body is in pain. Endorphins also result in the feeling of euphoria, and this is the main reason why people enjoy and love eating spicy food.

Fun fact

There are some people that believe that the more you eat spicy food, the more your tolerance increases over time. This fact can be partially true because sometimes, these TRPV1 receptors hide to protect themselves from potential damage. But however, this can also happen within a short period of time. 5 science-backed benefits of eating spicy foods

Reduce inflammation and relieves pain

Spicy foods help to reduce inflammation in the gut. There is a myth that spicy food causes ulcers and stomach pain. This can occur in some people. But recent studies as shown that capsaicin may actually increase gastrointestinal tract blood flow and also protect against the formation of ulcers by protecting it from damage. A registered dietitian with Orlando Health, Ashley Wright, said that “spicy food can also act as an antioxidant, reducing inflammation and aiding in the digestive process by fighting off harmful bacteria which can lead to infection.

Topical application of capsaicin (lotion) also can help in relieving pain by blocking impulses to the nerves, thereby decreasing pain sensation. In a study made 60 minutes application of a high-concentration patch containing 8% capsaicin provided effective pain relief in patients with neuropathic pain for up to 12 weeks.

Spicy food has longevity benefits

An extension population-based study by Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2015) says that “compared with people who ate spicy foods less than once a week to those who ate spicy foods for six to seven days a week showed a 14 % relative risk reduction in total mortality." This may be due to its anti-inflammatory effect, improved heart, and decreased obesity. Additionally, this same research was done at the University of Vermont, and the same findings of life expectancy in the United States of America.

Spicy food boost metabolism and weight loss

Capsaicin is a thermogenic compound that helps creates heat within the body that burns fat. Thereby triggering thermogenesis, the process that creates body heat in humans, Capsaicin stimulates the conversion of white fat to brown fat. Brown fats help in burning calories. This is normal physiology when a person exercises. The consumption of capsaicin mimics fat-burning exercise.

There have been over 20 separate studies about capsaicin, and it has been scientifically proven that consumption of capsaicin increases energy expenditure, thereby allowing the body to burn about 50 extra calories a day.

The best time to eat spicy food is with heavier meals during lunch or dinner.

Spicy food improves heart health

Spicy foods can generally improve heart health. Some studies have shown that spicy food helps to increase blood circulation and lowers blood pressure. Capsaicin also decreases inflammation, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Spicy foods also help in reducing cholesterol; in a small study, it was observed that participants who took two 4mg capsules of capsaicin in a day for three months showed to have improvements in blood cholesterol levels when compared to the control group.

Another study was done at the University of Vermont, which examined what the connection between heart health and consumption of red-hot chili pepper over six years. It was observed that there was a 13% lower incidence of death from causes like cardiovascular diseases or stroke among participants who consumed peppers.

Control appetite

Capsaicin can act as an appetite suppressant.

In a clinical study that was published about a group of subjects whose diets were supplemented with capsaicin to a group who did not have capsaicin in their diet. It was observed that the group with capsaicin reported an increase in feeling satiated and full.

Fountain of youth

Spicy foods help to slow down the aging process by increasing blood flow to the face and the body, making the body look and feel more youthful.

A 2022 clinical study published by Frontiers in Pharmacology says that capsaicin has been shown to prevent ultraviolet (UV)- induced melanogenesis via TRPV1 receptors. The consequence of capsaicin in blocking the UV-medicated collagen synthesis was medicated by reducing the generation of ROS in dermal fibroblasts instead of the receptor for capsaicin. This proved that capsaicin has high potential value as an anti-aging agent.


Spicy foods come with pros and cons. The cons are the sense of some short-term symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in some extreme cases. Which occurs when there’s overstimulation of the nervous system. But it also comes with various health benefits that have been scientifically proven, like boosting metabolism and heart health, and it also can act as an antioxidant. If you aren’t used to eating spicy foods, start by eating a small amount and work your way to increasing your tolerance.

(Co-written with Quadri Halimat Morenikeji)


Frontiers | Capsaicin, a Phytochemical From Chili Pepper, Alleviates the Ultraviolet Irradiation-Induced Decline of Collagen in Dermal Fibroblast via Blocking the Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species
The Science of Spicy Foods.
Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management?
CuriouSTEM - The Science Behind Spicy Food.
Is Spicy Food Good for You? 5 Proven Health Benefits of Spicy Food.
Does Eating Spicy Food Help You Lose Weight? – Farm to Fit.