Culture

Load Your Tacos Up With Hot Sauce Because A New Study Shows That Eating Chilies Is Good For Your Health

Chilies have been hailed as a holy grail food by many for its flavor and mythic health properties. Now, researches in Italy have found that consuming chilies as a part of your regular diet can lower the risk of death from stroke and heart disease.

Researchers monitored almost 23,000 people’s health status and eating habits for over eight years. Using data pulled from the Moli-sani study which has 25,000 participants from the Molise region of southern Italy. The study found that the risk of dying from a heart attack was lower by a whopping 40 percent among the participants who reported eating chili peppers four times a week at least. The risk of death from stroke was lowered by over 50 percent.

It doesn’t matter what else you eat, as long as you eat chili peppers.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and demonstrated that regardless of what the individual’s broader diet was, simply the inclusion of chili peppers reduced the potential risk.

“An interesting fact is that protection from mortality risk was independent of the type of diet people followed,” Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute (Neuromed) and study lead author, told CNN. “In other words, someone can follow the healthy Mediterranean diet, someone else can eat less healthily, but for all of them chili pepper has a protective effect.”
Call it a win for every country that was colonized for their spices — it’s not just the melanin! In Italy, the peppers usage has been consistent in its cuisine.
“And now, as already observed in China and in the United States, we know that the various plants of the capsicum species, although consumed in different ways throughout the world, can exert a protective action towards our health,” Licia Lacoviello, director of the department of epidemiology and prevention at Neuromed, told CNN.

Similar studies in the United States and China show that chiles are good for your health.

Lacoviello might be referencing a 2015 BMJ study that analyzed 487,375 people across 10 Chinese regions in the country. The study found that those who ate spicy foods six to seven times a week at least had 14 percent lower risks of death than participants who ate spices only once a week.
The BMJ study echoed Bonaccio’s earlier point, it suggested that people who ate spicier foods generally had poorer health habits but they still benefitted from the chilies. However, those who frequently ate chilies and excluded alcohol benefitted the most.
In 2017, a PLOS ONE study in the United States analyzed date from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. Of the 16,179 Americans surveyed those who ate red chili peppers had a 13 percent lower death risk than those who didn’t.

So what makes these peppers slap so hard? It’s scientific.

It’s all about the spice. Peppers high capsaicin, like the spicy Carolina Reaper, were the ones that lowered the death risks in study participants.

“In general the association of sweet peppers with mortality were less strong than the ones of chili peppers, suggesting a role for capsaicin,” Bonaccio said.

Other peppers, like sweet bell peppers, which are low in capsaicin due to a recessive gene were less beneficial.

 “In a large adult Mediterranean population, regular consumption of chili pepper is associated with a lower risk of total and CVD death independent of CVD risk factors or adherence to a Mediterranean diet. Known biomarkers of CVD risk only marginally mediate the association of chili pepper intake with mortality,” the study concluded. 

However, skeptics are less enthusiastic about finding the study conclusive. Duane Mellor, a dietitian at Aston Medical School in the United Kingdom told CNN the study “does not show a causal link.” 

“It is plausible people who use chilies, as the data suggests also used more herbs and spices, and as such likely to be eating more fresh foods including vegetables,” Mellor said. “So, although chilies can be a tasty addition to our recipes and meals, any direct effect is likely to be small and it is more likely that it makes eating other healthy foods more pleasurable.”
However, the study from China noted the opposite (that people who ate spicy foods had poorer diets) and it had the largest sample of the three studies.

“This type of relationship suggests that chilies may be just a marker for some other dietary or lifestyle factor that hasn’t been accounted for but, to be fair, this kind of uncertainty is usually present in epidemiological studies, and the authors do acknowledge this,” Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher, told CNN.

More research is needed because other factors could contribute to the observed effect, however, three studies in three different countries with very large samples are highly suggestive of the chilies’ benefits. 

The Top 12 Salsas From Across Latin America, Ranked

Culture

The Top 12 Salsas From Across Latin America, Ranked

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Hot sauce has been a kitchen table staple for Latinos for thousands of years. The Aztecs pretty much invented it. We put it on eggs, on snacks, on meat….you probably have that person in your life who would put it on their finest cardboard and eat it up, the stuff is so popular. Anything that brings vegans and carnivores together at the dinner table deserves to be celebrated. Enjoy this roundup of hot sauces from all over Latin America to try out with your next meal.

1. Mexico: Cholula

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Made in Chapala, Jalisco, the sauce is made with a blend of piquín and arbol chiles. It’s often put up against Tapatio on American restaurant tables in a Coke vs. Pepsi level battle of the condiments. But we know there’s room for both. However, if you’re really dedicated, you might be able to join the Order of Cholula for exclusive offers.

2. Belize: Marie Sharp

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Made in Stann Creek, Belize, Marie Sharp started her line of hot sauces in her kitchen where she experimented with blends of Habanero peppers and jams and jellies made from fruits and vegetables picked from her farm. The brand has long outgrown the kitchen and went international. We stan an entrepeneurial queen.

3. Costa Rica: Banquete Chilero

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This thicker sauce from Costa Rica gets its flavor from habanero peppers and carrots. Some might compare it to an asian sweet and sour sauce.

4. Guatemala: Picama’s Salsa Brava

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This mild, green sauce has a ketchup-like consistency and is made with serrano peppers. The color is straight up neon, but some people swear by it, stocking up on bottles when they visit Guatemala. Also, don’t you love when an abuela comes through like this?

5. Honduras: D’Olanchano

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This hot sauce uses Tabasco peppers grown in the Olancho valley and later aged in wooden barrels to acquire its taste.

6. Nicaragua: Chilango

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Chilango Chile sources their ingredients from all over the world to create unique flavors in their line of hot sauces. The Cabro Consteño is made with the Nicaraguan yellow “goat” pepper grown on the Atlantic coast. The Habanero Chocolate gets its name from the dark, brown pepper it uses for flavor. It doesn’t actually have chocolate in it – whether that relieves or distresses you.

7. Panama: D’Elidas

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This yellow is made with Habanero peppers, mustard, and vinegar. Hot sauce lovers report getting a lot of that mustard taste in the sauce, so adjust expectations accordingly. People are known to fill up their suitcases with bottles before leaving Panama.

8. Brazil: Mendez Hot Sauce

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Mendez Hot Sauce is a brand out of Central Brazil where creator, Rafael Mendez strives for sustainable business practices that help his community. The sauce uses the locally sourced Malagueta pepper which creates work for local farming families, lifting many of them out of poverty.

9. Chile: Diaguitas

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Diaguitas is the most popular hot sauce in Chile, coming in a few flavors. It’s light on ingredients, letting the peppers speak for themselves. It’s salty, so handle with care to balance that taste out on your food.

10. Colombia: Amazon Pepper Sauce

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This brand uses a variety of Amazon peppers that grow at the edge of the rainforest in the Andes Cauca Valley. They blend the chilis with other tropical ingredients. They have a mild flavor that stands out made with guava. 

11. Ecuador: Ole

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Ole carries a few different flavors, but it always goes back to the ingredients to make a hot sauce unique to the region it comes from. Ole uses the tena pepper which only grows in Ecuador. They have it on its own where you get the fruit taste with a lash of heat. They also put it in their Tamarillo sauce which couples the tena with the fruit from the pepper tomato tree.

12. Peru: Salsa de Aji Amarillo

Credit: PeruChef.com

What’s actually the most popular thing to do in Peru is to just make your own hot sauces. However, sometimes you can find bottled sauces that will satisfy the craving. The Peru Chef makes one with the aji amarillo pepper which has a subtle sweetness to it and is a cornerstone of Peruvian cuisine.

Of course, there are many hot sauces from all over Latin America that you’ll simply have to travel for if you want the best like Llajwa sauce from Bolivia. You could also probably stay home and get some bomb green sauce from King Taco.

The L.A. Times Rated All The Spicy Snacks From Hot Cheetos To Takis, And The Results Are Causing A Controversy On Twitter

Culture

The L.A. Times Rated All The Spicy Snacks From Hot Cheetos To Takis, And The Results Are Causing A Controversy On Twitter

takisusa / cheetos / Instagram

It seems that spicy foods are everywhere these days. Every brand out there is releasing some version of their original product but in ‘flamin hot’ form, there’s an abundance of YouTube videos of people eating insanely spicy foods as if it were some sort of competition, restaurants have ‘eat it and it’s free’ contests for spicy options.

The world is obsessed with spicy food right now.

But let’s be real. Many Latino foods were the OG spicy. Many Latino chefs and even our tías and abuelas have been experimenting with some seriously spicy foods for many many years.

But now that it’s gone mainstream, the LA Times recently conducted a not so official study into which snacks are the spiciest and the results have proven to be pretty controversial.

One writer at the L.A. Times decided to sample every spicy branded snack and share his findings with the world.

Credit: @latimesfood / Twitter

In the article, he says that he’s sampled every spicy snack known to mankind (not exactly), except for the ones that he couldn’t find, that he deemed unworthy, or both.

He also calls out the haters who say all the Flamin’ Hot and spicy snacks taste the same, saying that’s simply not true. He notes the subtle differences based on combination of heat vs. flavor.

So what are his findings?

Credit: @latimesfood / Twitter

According to this LA Times Food writer, his favorite spicy snack is the Doritos Flamin’ Hot Nacho. They’re the perfect mix of cheesy and spicy and come packed with a pretty hefty kick of spice.

Next came the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Puffs which he says are packed with spicy flavor, sometimes almost too much so. The only con he had to say about these is about the texture – sometimes too much can build up in your back teeth leaving you feeling sick.

Coming in at third place is Pop Fuego Popcorn. He says the level of MSG is at a 12 and that the flavor sensation is something like being on a rollercoaster. Pop Fuego kernels are not particularly heat-heavy but they’re almost hyperbolically tangy and acidic.

The Top 3 options weren’t exactly controversial picks but the rest of the results seemed to be pretty polarizing on social media.

Credit: @ismacont / Twitter

I mean who would ever put Takis Fuego and Doritos Dinamita in a tie for 5th place?!? Or Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators ahead of Doritos Tapatío? That’s just straight up madness.

And how are the OG Flamin’ Hot Cheetos not number one?

And it’s clear that the classic battle between Hot Cheetos and Takis rages on.

Credit: @latimesfood / Twitter

But like in all honesty, will it ever go away? I hope not.

But some on Twitter were totally not having any of it.

Credit: @latimesfood / Twitter

I mean ranking #12 out of 30 isn’t too bad. But apparently still wasn’t good enough for this Flamin’ Hot Cheetos con Limon super fan…

In his write up, Lucas Peterson said these would take a back seat to Takis any day.

I mean this Twitter user was so upset they’re apparently canceling their subscription to the LA Times.

Credit: @GenePark / Twitter

Now that’s some serious feelings there.

But, to be fair, the LA Times placed Andy Capp’s Hot Fires at #27 (out of 30) and said they had an unpleasant spice mixture that tasted like powered tomato. That’s not great.

One Doritos super fan took to Twitter to notify the LA Times of a possible typo in their report.

Credit: @iamHectorDiaz / Twitter

The LA Times actually tweeted back saying: “These are pretty good and am honestly impressed how much these taste like Tapatío, they’re just not the best *spicy* snack.

Be careful, those are fighting words.

Also, just this tweet, because I’m pretty sure all of us were thinking it.

Credit: @latimesfood / Twitter

Because the panza is a real thing.

H/T: The Official Spicy Snack Power Rankings