Hot Sauce Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Hot sauce

 Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Some like it hot! Do you? Hot sauce—sometimes called chili sauce or pepper sauce—is a condiment typically made with a base of chili peppers, plus seasonings like vinegar, salt, garlic, or onion powder. These piquant sauces come in a wide spectrum of relatively mild to knock-your-socks-off spicy, so there are plenty of options to choose from to jazz up bland meals.

Hot sauce is not a nutrient-rich food; a single one-teaspoon serving contains zero grams of carbohydrate, fat, or protein. However, for adding zesty flavor with very few calories, it can make a smart choice. Plus, capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot sauce, has numerous benefits for health.

Hot Sauce Nutrition Facts 

The following nutrition information has been provided by the USDA for one teaspoon (5g) of hot sauce.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 170mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

Most hot sauces do not contain any carbohydrates. Some varieties may have small amounts of carbs if sweetener or seasonings are added.

Fats

Fats don’t make an appearance in hot sauce. One teaspoon contains zero grams.

Protein

You won’t find any appreciable amount of protein in hot sauce, either, as none of its ingredients are protein-rich.

Vitamins and Minerals

There aren’t many vitamins and minerals in hot sauce. In most brands, the only micronutrient you’ll find listed is sodium, with anywhere from six to ten percent of your daily value in one teaspoon. Some brands of hot sauce also contain small amounts of vitamin A.

Health Benefits

Not only can hot sauce add a spicy tang to your food, but it also has some health benefits.

Adds Low-Calorie Flavor

Adding flavor to food often means piling on extra calories, fats, or artificial ingredients—but this isn’t the case with hot sauce. This spicy condiment enhances taste without any of these additions.

May Combat Cancer

Hot sauce may help fight the “big C.” A 2016 study reported that capsaicin—the compound responsible for hot sauce’s spiciness—has anticancer activity.

May Boost Cardiovascular Health

Capsaicin’s benefits continue! In a 2017 study, when people with low levels of good cholesterol were given a capsaicin supplement, their risk factors for coronary heart disease improved.

Compatible With Most Diets

Although not everyone will be a fan of hot sauce’s piquant bite, it makes a suitable addition to almost any diet. People on low-carb, keto, vegan, vegetarian, Whole30, and other specialty diets can shake on hot sauce without concern.

Gluten-Free

With just a handful of ingredients, most hot sauces are naturally gluten-free, so people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should not have problems eating it. However, it’s always wise to check ingredient labels to spot hidden sources of gluten. 

May Promote Longevity

The “spice of life” may be more than just a euphemism. A 2015 study in the British Medical Journal found that consuming spicy foods was inversely associated with mortality.  

Allergies

While peppers (and, therefore, hot sauce) are not considered a highly allergenic food, some people do have allergies to them. Those with a pepper allergy should not eat hot sauce.

If, on the other hand, you have an intolerance to fresh peppers, you may be able to tolerate a small amount of hot sauce. Many food intolerances are dose-related, meaning that a reaction only occurs when you eat a large amount of the food.

Adverse Effects

We’ve probably all experienced the burning sensation in the mouth after eating very spicy food. It’s possible, when you eat hot sauce, that you’ll feel a tingling or burning in your mouth and on your tongue—even for several minutes. You may also find your eyes water or your nose runs after overdoing it. This happens because the chemicals in hot sauce irritate the mucous membranes in your nose and mouth.

Some people also experience digestive symptoms from hot sauce. Upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting can all be adverse symptoms of eating very spicy sauces. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also need to limit their consumption of hot sauce to prevent heartburn and indigestion.

Varieties 

There’s a reason entire specialty stores exist to sell hot sauce. The sheer number of varieties is staggering and can vary by region of origin, spiciness, and types of pepper used. The USDA lists eleven types of hot sauce available in the U.S., including hot, extra hot, green, chipotle, habanero, garlic, chili and lime, sweet and spicy, Buffalo-style, Sriracha, and “other.”

In addition to these distinctions, hot sauces can be rated on a scale of hotness called the Scoville scale. This scale records units of heat based on the concentration of capsaicinoids present in a sauce. Highest on this scale are peppers (and their sauces) like the Carolina Reaper, Pepper X, and ghost pepper. Meanwhile, bell peppers and banana peppers rank quite low. 

When It’s Best

Choosing a hot sauce is largely a matter of taste, though some varieties may be better suited for certain types of cuisine. Sriracha and chili lime sauces, for example, are often used in Asian cooking, while you’ll often see chipotle and habanero sauce called for in Mexican dishes. Just remember, when trying a new hot sauce, to use sparingly, especially if you’re sensitive to spice.

Storage and Food Safety 

If you don’t use hot sauce much, a bottle may hang around your pantry for ages. But how long is too long to keep this condiment on hand? Unopened hot sauce can keep in a cool, dry place for an impressive five years. After opening, it’s best to use hot sauce within twelve months. Hot sauce that has gone bad may have an unpleasant smell, a change from its original color, or even dark, moldy spots.

How to Prepare

Most folks use hot sauce one dash at a time to liven up bland meals. However, it’s useful as more than just a topping. Many egg dishes, Asian dishes, dips, and Buffalo-style meats and veggies call for larger amounts of hot sauce.

When you’ve run out of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper, you can also use hot sauce as a substitute. Three to four dashes of sauce equals about an eighth teaspoon of powder or flakes.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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