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Is Hot Sauce Good for You?

by
author image Karen McCarthy
Karen McCarthy is a health enthusiast with expertise in nutrition, yoga and meditation. She currently studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been writing about nutrition since 2012. She is most passionate about veganism and vegetarianism and loves to promote the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.
Is Hot Sauce Good for You?
A close-up of red chilies. Photo Credit mark connors/iStock/Getty Images

Hot sauce is typically made from various types of hot chili peppers, such as habanero, tabasco, cayenne and jalapeno. These peppers, like most plant-based foods, contain qualities that can benefit your health. An active ingredient in chili peppers that makes them spicy and has health benefits is called capsaicin. Research shows that capsaicin has antioxidant effects, is a metabolism booster and can play a role in disease prevention. However, hot sauce contains more ingredients than just capsaicin, so it's important to use it in moderation.

Diabetes Prevention

A study published in the July 2006 issue of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that when participants consumed a meal with capsaicin and a meal without it, their insulin levels were more normalized after consuming the capsaicin meal than the plain meal. This was especially true for overweight participants. The study indicates that the habitual consumption of meals containing capsaicin may be useful in preventing meal-induced hyperinsulinemia, or increased insulin levels, which can lead to insulin resistance -- and Type 2 diabetes.

Weight Management

Hot sauce can also boost your metabolism for hours after you eat it, which can help with weight management and the prevention of obesity, as noted in a June 2007 "Los Angeles Times" article. Further, an animal study published in the February 2013 issue of the "European Journal of Nutrition" indicates that eating a meal with hot sauce reduces levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. At the same time, it raises levels of GLP-1, which is an appetite-suppressing hormone. As such, by spicing your food with hot sauce, you may take in fewer calories than you otherwise would and better manage your weight

Antioxidants and Nutrition

Antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants also work to eliminate oxidative stress in the body, which is a major factor in aging. Furthermore, there is good evidence that eating a diet rich in antioxidants is healthy and lowers risks of certain diseases, notes MedlinePlus. Hot sauce is a source of vitamin C, which is necessary for the production of collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. Hot sauce contains vitamin A, folate, magnesium and potassium, so it imparts more nutritional value to your food.

Precautions

Tabasco sauce, among other hot sauces, contains vinegar, which is acidifying. Consuming too much acidic foods over time can cause a condition called acidosis, which can be dangerous if untreated. Hot sauce can also contain salt, which you should not consume in excess. According to the American Heart Association, you should aim to limit your sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams daily to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. One pack of hot sauce from a fast-food chain contains about 45 milligrams of sodium. If you use numerous packets, you could add a significant amount of sodium to a meal that might already be high in sodium. Consider making your own hot sauce if you consume it frequently to monitor the ingredients used.

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