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.
Hot sauce contains nutrients that support health, including capsaicin and vitamins A and C. But watch out for brands that have added sodium.
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.
Hot sauce may also give your metabolism a boost, which can help with weight management and the prevention of obesity, according to a 2015 review article published in Open Heart. 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 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.
Some Brands Are Too Salty
Some brands of hot sauce 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.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of Chili Consumption on Postprandial Glucose, Insulin, and Energy Metabolism
- LA Times: A Fiery Pod Full of Vitamins and Antioxidants
- NBC News: 9 Condiments That Are Good for You
- MedlinePlus: Antioxidants
- European Journal of Nutrition: Capsaicinoids Lower Plasma Cholesterol and Improve Endothelial Function in Hamsters
- Tabasco Country Store: TABASCO Original Red Sauce
- Elmhurst College: pH Scale
- MedlinePlus: Acidosis
- American Heart Association: Shaking the Salt Habit
- Taco Bell: Full Nutrition Information