While some might enjoy the chilly sensation of eating spicy food that burns down and seek out dishes that will make their tongue tingle, others prefer gentle flavours and shy away from anything spicy. Whatever you prefer, a dietitian breaks down when it’s okay to add a little spice to your life and how much is too much.
Kamogelo Magolego from Pretoria’s reason for preferring non-spicy food is that she can taste the food and all the different flavours. When it comes to spicy food, she says the chilliness overpowers everything else, and all that is felt is an agony in her mouth.
“I prefer non-spicy food because I can taste what I’m eating. However, I feel like food being spicy is just an addition to what is already there. It doesn’t tamper with any of the food’s health benefits that are there. For example, if I am eating a salad, I can simply add hot sauce to make it a bit spicy, but that doesn’t mean the salad becomes any less healthy.
“So I believe food, whether spicy or non-spicy, can be unhealthy. However, I could never eat spicy food,” she says.
Spice makes it twice as nice
Richard Sibambo from Pretoria, who prefers spicy food, says that food tastes amazing for him when it’s spicy.
“I love spicy food, and it helps me with constipation. I never get bloated when I eat spicy food. However, it has an unhealthy part, which is heartburn and stomach pain.”
According to Pretoria-based dietitian Zandile Mengwai, spicy and non-spicy foods do not carry much of a nutritional value difference.
“There aren’t additional calories or nutrients that you can obtain from either the spicy or non-spicy food. The only difference is the taste difference and health effects that spicy food has.”
“Spicy food is mostly unhealthy, depending on what kind of spices you use.
She warns that consuming too much spicy food may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, which can potentially lead to heart disease and stroke and further worsen diseases such as heartburn and ulcers.
To prevent stomach irritation for people with sensitive stomachs, Mengwai says the best way is to avoid chilly and salty spices as much as you can, especially for people with ulcers, as they might aggravate the condition and cause serious complications.
“I’d recommend healthy options for spices, such as your natural spices such as herbs – oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, mixed herbs – and others include your curry powders, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder (not garlic or onion salts), cinnamon, etc.”
“Always make sure you check the ingredients of any product that you buy to check the main content and verify if it’s a natural spice or not. Salt is the main cause of high blood pressure, and most of the spices contain hidden salt. Thus, it is better to use natural spices and avoid using them with other salty spices.”
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