Have you ever taken time to think or check the reasons you should eat spicy foods? If you have not, then continue reading this article.
Nigerians are no strangers to spicy foods. We love spicy foods and most of what we cook here in Nigeria requires one kind of spiciness or the other. Most of our foods are peppery and are often garnished with spices to add flavour and taste.
The Yorubas love spicy food much more than any other tribe in Nigeria especially pepper. However, most Nigerians love spicy food to a certain degree. From our Suya, Kulikuli, Pepper Soup, and Kilishi, to peppered snails, spices make up a good percentage of what we eat in Nigeria. While some are not particularly into spicy foods, a vast majority see it as a customary act. It is part of their culture and they are committed to it.
So for those that have been shying away from spicy foods and those already eating, the first part of this article covers five reasons you should eat spicy foods.
Spicy Food Kills Cancer
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, the capsaicin that gives chile peppers their signature heat can kill off some cancer cells, particularly leukaemia cells. Additionally, the spice turmeric, found in certain mustards and curry powder andresponsible for their vibrant color, can hinder the growth rate of cancerous tumors. Studies attribute this to the bioactive compound curcumin, found in turmeric. You increase these powerful health benefits by pairing turmeric with freshly ground black pepper, which increases its bioavailability. Cancer may not be highly prevalent in Nigeria but it is better prevented and spicy foods offer the best option.
An Increased Life Span
This particular reason why you should eat spicy food sounds interesting. Eating spicy food is not the only way one could live longer but if it is one, I believe it is an interesting option. All I need to do to add some years to myself is simply to consume spicy food. According to research between Harvard School of Public Health and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the results from the study of the diets of more than 500,00 participants over a 5-year time period showed that those who consumed spicy foods six to seven times per week had a whopping 14 percent lower chance of dying early. This sounds spicier than any spice you could ever take. Show me a better way to live longer.
The world has seen a surge in depression and suicide cases over the last ten years. The cancel culture on social media, the overdependence on social media, drugs, and the political and economical turmoil in countries have increased the rate of depression especially among the youths. Therapy, meditation and other measures are ways one could overcome depression, however, they are not the only ways. According to Haley Robinson, a clinical dietitian at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, spicy foods can help fight depression. “Capsaicin has been shown to work as an endorphin,” Robinson says. “The body produces endorphins, like serotonin, in response to the heat, which it mistakes for pain. This makes you feel better and decreases the risk for depression or stress.”
Spicy foods also help your body to increase the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin. These hormones block the pain experienced from heat which in turn relieves stress.
So you don’t have to sit all day in therapy. Just eat some good quantity of spicy foods and you can get over that depressing feeling.
Fights Heart Disease
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) otherwise known as your bad cholesterol can have damaging effects on your heart. However, Chili peppers help in reducing the damage. According to Haley Robinson, a clinical dietitian at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, “The vitamin A and C found in these plants may help strengthen the heart muscle walls, and the heat of the peppers increases blood flow through your body,” Robinson says. “All of these factors working together may help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.”
Studies have also revealed that in places where spicy food is common, people are less prone to heart attacks and strokes. It has been observed that the capsaicin in hot peppers and sauces made from them helps reduce chronic inflammation, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, capsaicin fights a particular gene that causes a narrowing in human arteries, thereby upping flow to your blood vessels.
This particular reason why should eat spicy food may not be very important to people like me. I don’t know what weight I am going to lose. I am barely managing the flesh on my body so if you are as skinny as I am, just enjoy spicy foods and forget about this.
However, research has revealed that spicy foods help with weight loss. So if you are looking to shed some weight, this is for you.
According to Haley Robinson of the Piedmont Clinical Hospital, “Capsaicin helps increase your core temperature, increase metabolism and helps burn calories faster. Research has shown that it could increase your metabolism by up to 5 percent.”
A recent study also credited to Piedmont showed that people consume about 75 fewer calories after eating food with red chili peppers compared to eating bland food.
From all indications and the studies carried out, I believe it is clear at this point that we all need spicy foods. If you have not been eating, maybe it’s time you started. From combating depression, heart disease, cancer, and weight loss to an increased life span, we are seeing the fact that spicy foods are not just satisfactory in eating but also important to our health.
The Top 8 Spicy Nigerian Delicacies You Should Try
And we are going to dive straight into the second part of this article which is to expose you to the top 8 spicy Nigerian delicacies you should try. Now that we know the benefits of eating spicy foods, what are some spicy Nigerian delicacies you should try?
There is nothing spicier than this delicacy. This is one of the most popular spicy foods in Nigeria. It is 50% meat and 50% spices with pepper on top of the list. As the name suggests, it is quite peppery and if you are not used to it, you may end up with a teary face.
There is nothing spicier than this delicacy. This is one of the most popular spicy foods in Nigeria. It is 50% meat and 50% spices with pepper top of the list. As the name suggests, it is quite peppery and if you are not used to it, you may end up with a teary face.
This is most popular in the Northern part of Nigeria but overtime, this delicacy has spread across the nation. This is one of my favourite and I must say that it is indeed spicy.
Suya ranks among the spiciest foods in Nigeria. It is broiled meat prepared using a local grill. This can be prepared using any kind of meat. Preference plays a role here as beef, cow meat, ram meat, chicken, and even fish can be used.
The meat after being properly barbecued is smeared in Yaji, a local assortment of spices before eaten. Yaji comprises spices like pepper, ginger, garlic, uda seeds, stock cubes, etcetera. Kuli kuli, a local snack prepared from groundnut can also be grounded and added to the Yaji. If you are looking for where to get spicy Kuli kuli, you can check Naijapackage.com for the best of Kuli kuli.
This is prepared using snails. Other dishes can be prepared using snails but this rank high when it comes to spiciness. Peppered snails consist of boiled snails fried in onions, garlic, peppers, and other spices. You can take it either as an appetizer or finger food and it is quite tasty. This is also highly recommended because of the high nutritional value of snails.
For those in the Southwestern part of the country, this is already a popular meal. This originated from Osun State where it was also named. In the South-West, it is still regarded as a traditional delicacy but in most parts of the country, it is more or less a snack.
To prepare Dodo Ikire, you need over-ripe plantains and spices. Cut the plantain into small chunks, and then add pepper, onion, and other spices. After that, pound it into a pulp and fry it in palm oil. The result is a sweet, spicy snack that can also be taken as a meal as it is very satisfying. This is quite rich in flavour too.
Both Suya and Kilishi share a common origin and that is the fact that both of them originated from the Northern part of Nigeria. While Suya is fresh meat that is barbecued, Kilishi is left to dry which explains its hard and crispy nature. This is prepared using an assortment of garnish, including labu. Labu which is a local paste made from peanuts, pepper, ground onions, and sometimes honey or date palm (as a sweetener) is used to cover the meat. The meat is then consumed after it is left to dry very well.
This is prepared using goat meat, pepper and spices. It is traditionally prepared over a local grill. The meat is barbecued and then deep-fried in hot pepper and spices. This spicy delicacy can be eaten as appetiser, main dish or snack.
You will find it in Nigerian bars, eateries and joints. It’s spicy, delicious and rich in protein.
This can be traced to the Western part of Nigeria and it is popularly eaten with local rice called Ofada rice. To prepare this, you need to assemble a number of peppers namely tatashe (bell peppers) and rodo (scotch bonnets) and iru (locust beans) and a number of other ingredients. . Ofada is 90% pepper/Iru and 10% of other ingredients.
This was brought in to Nigeria from from the Agoyin people of Cotonou, Benin Republic. If you enjoy a whole lot of spicy food, then this is for you. This requires chilis (Cameroun peppers) and dried red bell peppers (tatashe) with lots of Onions.
This easy-to-make meal is quite popular in the streets of Lagos and can also be bought in eateries and joints.
The health benefits of spicy foods are there for all to see in the reasons you should eat spicy foods and if you are looking specifically for Nigerian spicy foods, we have also got you covered. Enjoy!