How Spicy Foods Can Cool You Down On A Hot Day

06/27/2012 09:12 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Have you ever wondered why cultures in the hottest locations on earth eat hot and spicy foods? Why is it that people in Central and South America, India, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean eat foods flavored with hot chile peppers and spices that make you sweat? There is a reason, and it's actually pretty smart when you think about it -- spicy foods make you sweat, which in turn helps you cool down faster. It's as simple as that!

Though you may be inclined to cool down with a tall glass of iced tea, ice cream or watermelon on a sweltering summer's day, the effect isn't lasting. After a while you're back to where you started -- hot and bothered. That's because your internal temperature is cooled too rapidly, and your body ends up compensating by raising your temperature. As a result, you feel hotter.

Eating spicy foods works differently -- it raises your internal temperature to match the temperature outside. Your blood circulation increases, you start sweating and once your moisture has evaporated, you've cooled off. Scientists call the phenomenon "gustatory facial sweating," because indeed you usually start sweating in the face first.

Even though eating spicy foods on a hot day isn't the most pleasant for many people, it may be worth doing because after sweating it out you do actually cool down. What do you think: is it worth it?

Related on HuffPost: Check out our gallery of jalapeno recipes

Jalapeno Recipes

CONVERSATIONS