It seems counter-intuitive—eating spicy food that makes your mouth burn when you’re already going stir-crazy from the summer heat. There is, however, science to back this madness.
When you indulge in spicy dishes like Sichuan Spiced Pork Belly, the capsaicin—an active ingredient in chilli—triggers thermoreceptors in your body, signaling your body to sweat and, incidentally, cool you down.
Don’t take our word for it: Australian news network SBS spoke to Dr. Ollie Jay, head of University of Sydney’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory. His research showed that less body heat is stored when you have a hot drink instead of a cold one, and that “the cooling effect of sweating outweighs the added heat.”
So while pit stains might not be a good look at any grill party (fashion tip: they’re not as obvious if you’re wearing dark colors), a fiery Ayam Bakar loaded with birds eye chili might just be the thing to help you and your guests keep cool on the hottest of days.
HOT FACT The spiciness of a chili is not in its seeds, but from the white pith where capsaicin—the chemical compound responsible for the heat—is concentrated.