Wing Lovers Listen Up!

Americans love their hot wings.

Truly. They’ve moved out of the exclusive domain of the sports bars and into the mainstream in the past decade. You’ll find new wing joints in just about every neighborhood and the growth of chains across the country. And everyone has their favorite.

Wing consumption grows annually in the United States… and it tends to spike during sporting matches. That’s to be expected, of course. And, the bigger the game, the more wings consumed. The National Chicken Council estimates that around 1.25 billion chicken wings are eaten on Super Bowl Sunday – and that’s the second-largest American feast day (after Thanksgiving).

New Sauces, Hotter Wings

While there are a few classic flavors, such as BBQ, teriyaki and your basic “hot” sauce, we’ve seen a big development in wing flavors during the past couple of years. These days you’ll find sauce options that include mango habanero, honey sriracha, and flavors in the 911 range of heat.

And yes, you will find that there are hot sauces that are just a little too much for you. Though there aren’t too many establishments that use Mad Dog in their hot sauces because of the heat, there are a few. And there are one or two national chains that offer hot wings with sauces that fall into the same Scoville range as the original Mad Dog 357 Hot Sauce. That’s 357,000 Scovilles of heat for the uninitiated.

All of That Is Good News, but There’s More

The growth of the hot wing industry is good news for fans. New sauces and restaurants to try are always a good thing. But, there’s more than just flavor and availability to consider.

Capsaicin is fat-soluble. This odorless and tasteless compound is the stuff that gives chili peppers and hot sauces their heat. And it does a body good. As a shortlist, capsaicin:

• Increases your metabolism, assisting with weight loss,
• Regulates blood flow,
• Causes cancerous cells to commit suicide,
• Encourages cell growth and regeneration,
• Alleviates chronic pain and headaches,
• Staves off the development of certain ulcers,
• May stop heart attacks while they’re in the process, and
• It is a terrific source of vitamins and antioxidants.

But, let’s go back to that fat-soluble thing. Your body absorbs certain vitamins and minerals when there is water present to assist that process. Those foods are water-soluble. Capsaicin, on the other hand, is fat-soluble. And that means you’ll absorb a lot more of the benefits when consuming it with fatty substances.

You won’t get as much capsaicin into your system when you eat it with a green salad served with a squeeze of lemon. You’d be better off adding a splash of olive oil to get the benefits you want. And, if you really want the benefits of hot sauces, you should consider slathering it on your wings. There is plenty of fat in those (which is why they taste so damn good).

Don’t worry; you don’t need to wait for Super Bowl Sunday to enjoy your wings. You can eat them any day of the year… in just about any establishment in the United States.

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