Why Is Sriracha So Good?

It gives scrambled eggs a kick, makes spaghetti look lovely, and even tastes excellent on pizza. Fearful followers of the product stormed grocery stores and stocked up by the box after hearing rumors that its plant in southern California was closing. Even keychain-sized bottles of the substance were produced by an outside firm so that enthusiasts could quickly squirt it on their preferred cuisine.

But why do we almost all have a thing for Sriracha? In a recent video, the American Chemical Society emphasizes that it’s all about the chemistry.

The five major components of Sriracha—ground red chili peppers, vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and sugar—are what give it its flavor. You can even make it at home because it’s so easy.

Two chemicals from the capsaicin family, found in the Sriracha peppers, cause our mouths to produce a unique protein. The protein TRPV1 is made to react to temperatures higher than boiling by causing the production of endorphins, which are painkilling molecules. Endorphins are the same feel-good chemicals that are generated after exercise, eating chocolate, and sex.

In other words, Sriracha is more than just a tasty condiment for folks who enjoy spicy meals. It also feels good.

However, how hot is Sriracha? And why doesn’t it make our eyes water like wasabi or hot mustard but instead just heats up our mouths?

Sriracha falls somewhere in the mild-to-medium range on the scoville scale, which rates spicy foods based on how much would need to be diluted by a solution of water and sugar to make their heat unnoticeable. Sriracha has a scoville rating of 1,000 to 2,500, which is a little less potent than Tabasco, which has a scoville rating of 2,500 to 5,000 (depending on the pepper patch your bottle originated from).

In contrast, a pure habanero pepper weighs 350,000. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and Carolina Reaper, which are properly named, are two of the hottest peppers in the world, ranking between 1.5 million and 2 million scoville.

A class of heavy chemicals that primarily remain in your mouth are what give Sriracha its heat. On the other hand, wasabi and hot mustard are composed of smaller, lighter molecules. These enter your nasal cavity and cause your nose to burn and your eyes to water. Because Sriracha is a unique type of spice, even those who don’t enjoy the eye-watering heat of other spicy condiments may enjoy it.

However, if it’s still too hot for you and you can’t finish the bottle, don’t panic; because to a few secret components, Sriracha essentially never spoils.

The finest spicy sauce: Why is Sriracha?

Few meals have achieved the level of popularity that Sriracha (pronounced see-ROTCH-ah) has. The vivid red sauce transformed from a unique Thai cuisine topping to a widespread addiction, inspiring a whole industry of cookbooks, flavored snacks, and, of course, knockoffs.

The authentic Sriracha sauce, despite the prevalence of knockoffs, is produced by Huy Fong Foods in California. Due to the rooster-themed graphic on its ubiquitous bottle, it is also known as “rooster sauce.” A single facility cranks out 3,000 bottles each hour, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. That amounts to around 20 million bottles annually.

So, What’s in Sriracha?

Xanthan gum, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite, garlic, sugar, salt, and chilies are listed on the label. Take a closer look since the closely-guarded secret formula doesn’t reveal much more.

Start With Peppers and Vinegar

The majority of hot sauces on the market, both store-bought and homemade, are made up of these components. Red jalapenos are what give Sriracha its spiciness. The sauce is surprisingly not that spicy. Sriracha scores 2,200 on the Scoville scale, a device created to gauge the heat of chillies. Tabasco sauce weighs 3,750, while cayenne pepper weighs an astonishing 50,000!

Is Sriracha hot sauce a drug?

Right now, Sriracha is causing a little bit of a problem at Debrief HQ. Yes, Sriracha, the fiery chili sauce that was invented in Si Racha, a little seaside town in eastern Thailand (hence the name). Our issue is that our meals are now completely covered in this sauce, which is essentially consisting of chilli peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar. No dinner has been complete for the past few months without Sriracha. And this is a huge amount of the substance; we’re not just talking about a tiny dab. So much that we still need more even if the spice is making our noses stream. What the heck is going on? And why is Sriracha (I use the term very loosely) so addictive?

Actually, there is a scientific explanation behind it, and it has to do with how the body responds to spicy food. According to Shona Wilkinson, a nutritionist at Superfood UK, “Spicy food isn’t addictive in the true sense of the word compared to such substances as nicotine and caffeine and your body will never develop a true need on it.” However, a bodily reaction that is taking place may be the reason why some people experience a yearning for spicy food.

The molecule called capsaicinoids, which is found in chillies and causes a reaction in the brain, is the cause of this reaction. The brain believes it is burning when exposed to capsaicinoids. This causes the body to release a neurotransmitter known as endorphins,’ Shona informed me. Endorphins are frequently linked to positive emotions, but they can also be used to treat pain, which is what happens when eating spicy food. They accomplish this by preventing the transmission of pain impulses by the nerves.

However, eating spicy food has other effects on the body besides that. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to feelings of pleasure and reward, is also released. This indicates that certain individuals who consume a lot of spicy food experience a terrific feeling, almost like a high,’ Shona added. This helps to explain why spicy foods like Sriracha may have a slight “addictive” quality since it may cause people to seek that sensation.

Professor of psychology Dr. Paul Rozin started researching people and spices in the 1970s and developed the term “benign masochism” while looking into why people enjoy chillies so much. This, he claims, explains why individuals enjoy hot cuisine, scary movies, or extreme sports. According to his theory, these things enable a person to experience some degree of danger or anxiety while actually remaining “safe.” In light of this, it has been asserted that individuals who appreciate spicy cuisine are more likely to be “risk takers.” The more intense the circumstance (in this case, how spicy something is), the greater the sense of relief at the end, he also contends, explaining why individuals do it.

This was supported by a research that looked at chili lovers. They discovered that “sensation seeking” was an excellent indicator of whether or not someone enjoyed spicy food and how frequently they consumed it. They also discovered, intriguingly, that people who prefer spicy food do not physically feel the ‘burning’ sensation less; rather, they simply enjoy it more.

Shona continued, “These [those who prefer spicy food] may be individuals seeking the sensation of a “high” and the rush of endorphins. You could say that these folks take risks, but they could also be depressed or searching for a little escape from their typically stressful lives. Include capsaicin in your diet, but only in moderation, as it is believed to provide a number of health benefits.

And while it would be logical to assume that those who like spicy food simply become “acclimated” to it and then eat more of it, there isn’t actually a lot of data to support this. In one study, it was discovered that other elements, such as social impact and personality variations, were more important. Assuming that Mexicans typically eat more chillies than Americans, Dr. Rozin and a colleague in 1980 analyzed the pepper preferences of Mexicans and Americans. They claimed that Mexicans should have higher tolerance for capsaicin than Americans if desensitization (e.g., growing accustomed to it) could account for our preference for spicy food (and the associated “pain”); nevertheless, the findings only marginally supported this claim.

Now that you know the reason behind it, you should probably acquire a keyring-sized bottle of Sriracha to keep on hand for emergencies. The main motivation is to obtain a rush of endorphins.

Is Sriracha a healthy food?

Sriracha’s health dangers are essentially the same as those of many other delicious condiments: too much salt. Sriracha has a lot of salt, and too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. Fortunately, this is simply a short-term issue for many people.

Is Sriracha ketchup healthier than it?

Sriracha sauce, regrettably, has a lower health rating than ketchup, according to Jalali, primarily due to the high amount of sugar it contains. The contents are listed on the label in teaspoons, but most individuals, according to her, consume closer to a tablespoon with their meals.

Which spicy sauce is the greatest in the world?

  • The Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce is the best overall.
  • Best Overall Runner-Up: Tapatio Hot Sauce.
  • Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce is the best Mexican.
  • Cholula Original Hot Sauce is ideal for tacos.
  • The best jalapeo hot sauce is Yellowbird’s for Bloody Marys.
  • Bushwick Kitchen Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha Hot Sauce is the best Sriracha.

Sriracha or Tabasco, which is hotter?

You could assume that Tabasco is significantly spicier based on the chilies utilized. Though hotter, it’s not unbearably so. Both spicy sauces are in the low-jalapeo spectrum of heat: Sriracha has about 2,200 SHU and Tabasco has somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 SHU. For instance, jalapeo peppers have a Scoville heat rating between 2,500 and 8,000.

Why is the tabasco pepper so close when it is obviously hotter? It has to do with how much hot sauce mixture is utilized. The ratio of chilies to vinegar in Tabasco hot sauce reduces the amount of heat in the sauce overall so that a wide range of individuals can enjoy it.

The heat of Sriracha is more in line with the pepper it contains. Red jalapenos that are mature tend to be on the hotter end of the scale, but overall, the sauce definitely has more chili flavor than Tabasco.

How much sriracha will I gain?

Now that we’ve covered the negatives, you should be aware that your beloved hot sauce isn’t all bad. In fact, sriracha has some genuine health advantages, so if you’re motivated to eat healthier, you don’t have to cut it out of your diet.

Capsaicin: Weight Loss and Mood-Boosting

The capsaicin found in chili peppers, which are the major component of sriracha, is one of its biggest benefits.

The capsaicin-based spice aids in metabolism stimulation and supports a healthy body weight.

In order to control the feel-good chemicals in your body, such serotonin, these peppers can also increase endorphins in the body.

The Many Benefits of Chilli Peppers

Additional advantages of sriracha sauce consumption include:

  • Increasing the rate of blood clot absorption
  • reduces inflammation
  • promotes improved blood circulation
  • a potent expectorant for colds

What occurs when you consume too much Sriracha?

The only food that I won’t put Sriracha on is ice cream, even though it sounds fantastic. I will reach for my bottle of sriracha and sprinkle it with red chili sauce till it is the ideal balance of sweet and hot for my palate on bagels, salads, stir-fries, sandwiches, noodles, eggs, vegetables, soup, sushi, sweet potatoes, avocados, burritos, you name it. If I could, I would inject it right into my veins. However, every now and again, while I’m sriracha-burning my taste receptors, I do question whether consuming hot sauce with every meal is in any way unhealthy for me.

Although it is difficult to respond to this issue, it is useful to begin by defining sriracha. Traditionally produced with sun-ripened chilis, sugar, salt, vinegar, and a few additions and preservatives to keep it shelf-stable, sriracha is a fiery sauce. Sriracha offers very little in the way of macronutrients; the sauce only has a tiny bit of carbohydrate content. Sriracha is therefore primarily used for flavor.

It goes without saying that salt and sugar are necessary to generate the distinct salty-sweet flavor of sriracha. One teaspoon of food has one gram of sugar and 80 milligrams of salt in it. According to Tracy Lockwood, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in New York City, “To put that into perspective, ketchup includes about the same amount of sugar and a little more than half the salt of sriracha.” Not to mention, she adds, “it is really crucial to think about how absurd a one-teaspoon serving size actually is.” According to her, the average person uses about two tablespoons of sriracha when adding it to food, which equals about 400 mg of additional salt.

Although this is not a concerning amount of salt, it might add up over the course of a day and eventually a lifetime. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, persons should consume no more than 2,300mg of sodium daily. Additionally, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that nine out of ten Americans consume too much sodium. According to Lockwood, if you squirt two tablespoons of sriracha over your eggs in the morning, you would have consumed 17% of the daily recommended intake. Additionally, she warns that regularly including sriracha in your meals could be harmful over time.

According to Lockwood, a diet heavy in sodium can lead to fluid retention, electrolyte abnormalities, and occasionally bloating. According to the AHA, we are aware that sodium draws water into your system, which raises your blood pressure. Your chance of having a heart attack and a stroke can rise over time if you have high blood pressure. These are some very valid arguments for being conscious of your daily intake of salt and sriracha.

The truth is that while consuming sriracha won’t likely result in your death, it won’t do anything for your health either. Sriracha’s garlic and chilies, in addition to its high salt content, may cause heartburn. It’s not for everyone because some people may develop gastrointestinal problems after consuming chilis, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea.

What about people who assert that hot sauce is healthy? According to some study, chilis contain a chemical called capsaicin, which may speed up your metabolism. However, Lockwood warns, “you’d have to eat unsafe and possibly dangerously high doses of capsaicin, and your digestive system won’t be happy, in order to experience these metabolic benefits. The same is true, according to her, for the trace levels of vitamin C, A, B6, K1, potassium, and copper.

Of course, humans eat food for reasons other than just fuel and nutrition. In case it wasn’t obvious, I adore the flavor of sriracha. I don’t think it’s inherently terrible to add this condiment to your meals, particularly if you do it with nutritious foods like whole grains, veggies, and eggs, according to Lockwood. Additionally, it helps folks who lack an innate taste for better foods disguise the flavor of these “good” items. Spices may be a better option if you want to give your cuisine a kick because they may contain less sodium, she advises. However, studies show that eating meals you enjoy helps your body absorb nutrients better, which is reason enough for me to continue consuming sriracha.