While the sugar content of sriracha might not set off alarms at first glance, Registered Dietician Pegah Jalali told Men’s Journal that many sriracha lovers aren’t consuming a mere teaspoon. Instead, she claims most people are using closer to a tablespoon per meal, which amounts to ¾ of a tablespoon of sugar, and 12% of the daily recommended amount of sodium for the day. Some sriracha brands also contain preservatives like sodium bisulfate, which can cause wheezing, hives, and upset stomach in people with sulfite sensitivities (per Eat This, Not That!).
Like all hot sauces and chili peppers, sriracha contains capsaicin, a compound that elicits the burning effect many know and love (per American Chemical Society). A 1992 study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that capsaicin slows the rate of gastric emptying, which can contribute to indigestion and acid reflux. Registered dietician Amanda Saucda explained that the same compound can also cause irritation in the gut which may send you running to the bathroom (per Eat This, Not That!).
But the effects of capsaicin aren’t all bad. In fact, Healthline notes that the compound has long been celebrated for its health-promoting properties. Capsaicin is an analgesic — an effective pain reliever — as well as an antihistaminic, alleviating congestion and sneezing. It also stimulates metabolism and reduces inflammation. This can help sriracha-lovers burn fat, prevent obesity and diabetes, and improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other chronic inflammatory diseases.