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I love all kinds of pungent food such as chili peppers etc., the hotter the better.

I'd like to know, are there any significant dangers or benefits related to consuming them?

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Obviously some spicy foods are better for you than others, but I am assuming you want an answer about spicy foods in general.

One of the biggest benefits of eating spicy foods, especially chili peppers, is that it helps you lose weight. Spicy foods help to raise your metabolic rate, which will slow down your weight gain. If you eat spicy foods often, the effects add up.1

A 2007 study by Nottingham University2 found that spicy foods can help kill cancer cells. Capsaicin, which is what makes many foods spicy, attacks the mitochondria of the cancer cells, triggering their death.

Spicy foods have also been found to help decongest your sinuses. A 1998 study3 found that a capsaicin nasal spray helped to clear the sinuses of people. Eating spicy foods has been known to have a similar effect.4


Now for some risks of eating spicy food.

When you are eating spicy foods, there are only a few risks to watch out for. Spicy foods have been known as foods that can trigger heartburn, so anyone with heartburn should avoid them.5 Some spicy foods that don't contain capsaicin, like horseradish, can sometimes damage tissue.6

There are usually more risks when handling spicy foods, especially peppers. If pepper juice gets in your eye, it will cause pain and possibly swelling. If this ever happens, there are ways to flush out your eyes.7 Handling peppers and sometimes horseradish before eating can cause pain, swelling, redness, and irritation in your hand. To avoid this, wear gloves when cutting peppers and wash your hands thoroughly after (washing with milk will help).6


[1] Chili Peppers May Solve Obesity Epidemic

[2] How spicy foods can kill cancers

[3] The long-term effects of capsaicin aqueous spray on the nasal mucosa

[4] Diseases of the Sinuses: A Comprehensive Textbook of Diagnosis and Treatment

[5] Heartburn Prevention Tips for Spicy Food Lovers

[6] Can Eating Extremely Spicy Food Be Harmful to Your Health?

[7] Removing Pepper Juice From Eyes

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The chilli pepper is usually referred to plants from the genus Capsicum and the substances that give chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin and several related (called as capsaicinoids).

Health benefits of eating chilli peppers can include:

  • Chilli peppers 'help to burn fat' (study)

    The effects of capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers and chillies hot, have been studied again in a small trial investigating what effects hot red (cayenne) pepper has on energy expenditure, body temperature and appetite.

Nutritional value (per 1 pepper ~45g):

  • Vitamin C: 181%
  • Vitamin A: 10%
  • Vitamin B-6: 5%
  • Iron: 2%
  • Magnesium: 2%

Yellow and green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain lower amount of carotene and vitamin C substances.

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Red chilies contain large amounts of vitamin C and small amounts of carotene (provitamin A). Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in potassium, magnesium, and iron. Their very high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the uptake of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.

A very large study published by the British Medical Journal found some indications that humans who consume spicy foods, especially fresh chili peppers, were less likely to die of cancer or diabetes

Sources:

  • 2
    Hello and welcome to Health.SE! Can you please link directly to the source you refer to instead of the general main page, so people don't have to search on that page for what you are referencing? Even better, could you put in a link to the study in the British Medical Journal? Thanks, and again, welcome to Health.SE! – YviDe Mar 2 '16 at 20:42
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There is one exception that has not been mentioned. There is a condition called Cholinergic Urticaria, which is hives due to excess heat and sweat. It is in the category of physical allergies, and more information can be found here: Medscape Cholinergic Urticaria. One of the triggers is spicy food. This article explains that dietary changes that remove foods that elevate the body temperature help tame the symptoms. Removing capsaicin foods eliminates a trigger for these reactions.

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