Hot Inside and Out


Summer will officially arrive in a few short weeks, but the heat has been around now for a while (at least here in North Carolina). As I was working in my garden, sweat dripping down my face, I was reminded of an apparent contradiction. Why is it that countries known for hot weather are also known for hot spicy foods? Southern cuisine is no different.

It’s actually quite simple:

1. Most spices contain antibacterial and anti-parasitic compounds like capsaicin. Since bacteria and parasites thrive in warm climates, it’s very helpful to add hot peppers to just about everything. That’s why Thai food, Indian food, and even Southern food is quite spicy. Tabasco, made from a hot peppers, is a staple in Cajun cooking. Cilantro, used in Indian and Mexican food actually kills salmonella bacteria.

2. When you eat hot food, it warms you up from the inside out and causes you to sweat. This process is our body’s way of cooling down and preventing heat stroke!

3. Spicy food also stimulates the appetite. When it gets really hot outside, we tend to lose our appetite, and even though that’s not a problem for us in the US where food is plentiful year round, it is an issue in some parts of the world.

In honor of the many health benefits of hot peppers (Capsicum), The International Herb Association has named Capsicum as the 2016 Herb of the Year! Learn more by reading an earlier post I wrote highlighting Cayenne Peppers.

If you like spicy food, this is YOUR year to celebrate! Check out this list of peppers, with descriptions, from the website, Vegetable Gardener.


© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™