No pica’’. There’s no scientific evidence yet as to why some Mexicans say “it’s not spicy,” when the food in question is, in fact, so hot you might as well be breathing fire. As a Mexican, I can attest to this. According to us, nothing is spicy and you can always add more chili to everything, including, candies, hot chocolate, chocolate bars, fruits, and food that is already spicy (I know it sounds delicious!). What’s surprising is that I never thought of spicy food as being one of the main ingredients in my daily diet until I moved to Germany. 

The truth is that spicy food is an integral part of many countries’ cuisines, such as India, Thailand, China, Jamaica, Korea, Malaysia, Ethiopia, and many more. Chili peppers don’t only add a lot of flavor to our meals, they are also rich in antioxidants. The best part is that they’ve been linked to various health benefits. Let’s find out more about these spicy gems.


First Things First, Why Do We Love Chili?

According to a study conducted at the Department of Pathological Sciences in Brazil, spicy food contains a chemical called capsaicin, which is responsible for the burning that we feel in our mouths. This compound also stimulates the release of endorphins and dopamine in our brains.

Basically, when we eat chili and we feel the heat sensation or the feeling that our mouths are on fire, our bodies release pain signals in our brain. Once our brains receives these signals, they respond by sending two types of neurotransmitters: endorphins and dopamine. The endorphins then reduce the sensation of pain by blocking the nerves’ ability to transmit pain signals. Simultaneously, the dopamine hormone comes into play by stimulating pleasure because the brain focuses on the rewarding effects of capsaicin. When the two are combined, we experience a sensation of pain while at the same time, happiness and pleasure. In other words, the spiciness that is felt is not actually a taste but a sensation. 


6 Perks of Eating Chili

Several studies have shown that not only do we feel pleasure, but that extracted capsaicin also provides us many health benefits.

Pain Killer 

Extracts of the plant, which include capsaicin, have been used for centuries as analgesics and have recently been used for severe nerve pain, such as post-herpes zoster and diabetic neuropathy.  According to the study, capsaicin can help block the detection of painful stimuli. For this reason, the topical application of high concentration capsaicin gel creams has been used to treat various infections of neuropathic pain.

Good for Your Eyesight 

Chili peppers possess vitamin A and a lot of vitamin C, both well-known for their antioxidant properties. They have also been linked to the prevention of eye problems such as macular degeneration and dry eyes, as well as delaying the development of cataracts as we age. 

Calms Migraines 

In a study conducted by Practical Neurology, 72% of the migraine patients felt completely relieved of their migraine after using intranasal capsaicin. The researchers found that capsaicin desensitizes the nerve responsible for sensation in the face and decreases Calcitonin gene-related Peptide, both of which are responsible for creating migraine pain.

Relieves Stomach Pain 

A study showed that red chili peppers can help calm stomach pain. As mentioned above, capsaicin releases signals to the brain that can calm pain sensations in the central nervous system. Capsaicin is an anti-inflammatory so it can protect the stomach from developing ulcers.

Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases 

Capsaicin can help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disorders, keeping our hearts healthy. Daily ingestion of chili for 4 weeks has been shown to improve cardiac metabolic processes in adults.

Contains Anticancer Properties 

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has a strong antiproliferative effect on prostate cancer cells. In addition, in a 2019 study, it was shown that mixing capsaicin with traditional chemotherapy or radiotherapy drugs can improve sensitivity, reduce side effects, and increase the patient’s tolerance to cancer treatment.

Now that you know some of the benefits of this fiery dance on your tongue, let’s take a look at a recipe which you can eat with as many foods as you can unleash your imagination to tantalize your taste buds and pamper your body with.

Tatemada Sauce: A Special Mexican Recipe

This sauce is called salsa tatemada; the name we give to all the salsa where we grill or roast the veggies before puréeing them. 


To prepare the sauce you’ll need a frying pan and a mixer. Now, let’s jump to the recipe!

  1. Cut the onions and tomatoes in half and put all of the ingredients (except the cilantro branches) in the frying pan without any oil. 
  1. Let them roast for around 5-8 minutes on each side. While you’re roasting the vegetables, I suggest you open the window. The reason is that when the jalapeños begin to roast, the capsaicin molecules will fly into the air and this maywill cause you to cough.
  1. Once they’re all roasted,  put them in the mixer. Don’t forget to add cilantro branches. Once everything is in, blend them together with a little salt to taste and you’re good to go! 

Voilà, you have a salsa tatemada.

Fun Facts About Chilies


Just As A Reminder: Be Careful 

It’s very important to know your tolerance levels when eating them, as it could be counterproductive. If you experience digestive discomfort and they bring you more pain than pleasure, maybe chili peppers are not the best option for you and you should avoid them altogether.

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