Hot sauce: That spicy, tangy accompaniment to food that some of us just
can’t imagine living without. Also called chili sauce or pepper
sauce, hot sauce is a perennial favorite with Americans, who seem to put
it on just about everything they eat. In fact, all kinds of spicy foods
are growing in popularity, evidenced by the array of spicier offerings
seen in supermarkets and restaurants these days. Recent studies show that
more than 75 percent of U.S. consumers say they enjoy spicy food, which
is generally a good thing, because there are real
health benefits that come with eating certain spices.
It has also been suggested that hot sauce can help with weight loss --
but is this supported by science? Many types of food are said to ‘melt
off’ pounds, or contain ingredients that ‘burn’ calories,
but it’s important to separate diet myths from fact. And while hot
sauce can't magically remove calories from food, it can help people
control weight. How does this work?
Basic science tells us that cutting calories and exercising are still
the best ways to lose weight, but certain spices actually can help jump
start the process. Many foods produce an increased metabolic rate (the
energy being used by the body), such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats,
caffeine and other nutrients. Capsaicin, the component of peppers that
makes them “hot,” has also been shown to help burn energy.
The heat in hot sauce, in effect, raises heat in the body – making
the body a more efficient ‘furnace’ that burns more calories.
A moderately spicy meal can temporarily boost metabolism by as much as
In addition to helping increase the burn, there are other practical ways
eating spicy food can help to control weight gain: With its spicy kick,
hot sauce helps one experience a meal more intensely, which leads to feeling
satisfied sooner, and thus eating less. The appealing blend of flavors
in hot sauce is a great way to manage cravings without resorting to calorie-laden foods.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that when hot
sauce was added to breakfast foods or appetizers at lunch, people not
only ate less during those meals, they were less hungry for hours afterward.
And when food is especially spicy, people take smaller bites and eat more
slowly. This allows the “full” signals from the stomach catch
up with the brain, so they know to stop eating sooner.
Since hot sauce is naturally low in calories (one tablespoon contains
less than five calories), it’s the perfect add-in to many dishes.
Try substituting hot sauce for butter, which has 100 fewer calories per
tablespoon. Soups, stews, sauces and marinades can be flavored with hot
sauce instead of cream or meat stock. And if plain hot sauce is not to
your liking, try making a simple, nutritious
Remember, weight control isn’t just about what we put on our plates,
it requires planning and effort to be successful. Always consult your
doctor when starting a new diet and exercise plan.
Do you have a favorite hot sauce? Share a comment or recipe below.