Spices are strongly flavoured aromatic substances, usually dried and crushed into a powder. There are hundreds of varieties giving a huge array of different flavoured spicy foods.
Spicy Food can be very good for you, as many Spices have medicinal properties.
Many spices have antimicrobial properties. Garlic, chilis, onion, allspice and oregano for example kill all bacteria, making food safer.
Chili's are used in many spicy foods around the world. The substance which makes a chili hot is called Capsaicin.
The hottest chili in the world is the Naga Jolokia. They are, on average, 170 times spicier than a Jalapeno pepper.
The perception of chili's being hot comes from the fact that the substance, Capsaicin they contain, triggers the same pain receptors as heat, causing the brain to register a sensation of heat.
The consumption of spicy food, and the resulting pain signal caused releases endorphins in the brain, giving a natural high which can last several hours and bring a sense of well-being.
Archaeological evidence suggests people have been using spices in cooking 6000 years, showing that our distant ancestors also enjoyed spicy food!