Chow Bella

Will Eating Spicy Foods Cool You Down?

When is this heat going to give us a break? Is it October yet?

While we're waiting inside for the calendar to budge, we figured we'd do some research to find out if it's really true that spicy foods cool you off.

In Spanish, "calor" (temperature hot) is not the same as "picante" (spicy). On a particularly hot day, you might not crave a steaming hot bowl of rice and beans, but spicy salsa and chips with a cold beer sounds like the most quenching thing on the planet.

It's probably not a coincidence that warm climates around the world have some of the spiciest foods, too. Consider Southern creole dishes, Ethiopian stews, Indian curries, spicy Thai soups, Jamaican jerk - see a connection?

The answer, after the jump...

Bottom line: Eating spicy foods increases your blood circulation and creates the phenomenon called "gustatory facial sweatingsays Luke LaBorde, a professor of food science at Penn State University. You might feel warmer at first, but then the cooling effect takes over after you sweat and catch yourself in a breeze.

We're not sure we're totally jazzed about the idea of making yourself hotter in order to get to the cooling part. Wouldn't placing your cold iced tea glass on your face and neck provide a similar -- and more pleasant -- experience?

What's your take? Do you eat spicy foods to cool off? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jennifer Woods
Contact: Jennifer Woods