Can You Eat Curry with a Sore Throat: Scientists Say Yes!

Coughs, colds and sniffles can make us all pretty miserable, and it’s even worse if it means we can’t dig into our favourite dishes. Can you eat curry with a sore throat? You won’t have to miss out on a good portion of curry. In fact, eating curry might actually be beneficial. Today I’m going to tell you why.

Eating Curry with a Sore Throat. What You Really Need to Know

You can eat curry with a sore throat. While hotter curries may cause you to feel temporary discomfort, there are no health risks to eating curry even when feeling unwell. In fact, eating curry with a sore throat can actually alleviate symptoms.

What Causes a Sore Throat?

Before we get started, its well worth taking a look at the few of the reasons why we get a sore throat in the first place. If you can work out the cause, then you will have a good idea about what to avoid.


If you've not had enough to drink the back of your throat can become pretty dry leading to an acute scratchy feeling. It's not pleasant. 

You can also get a sore throat if you've been spending a lot of time in places with air conditioning. 

The good news is that this is easily fixed with a glass or two of water. The bad news is that by drying out the mucus membranes at the back of your nose and throat, you do leave yourself more prone to catching viruses such as a nasty cold. 


All that said, there are few foods that are as encouraging as a nice spicy curry to get you to drink a few pints of water!

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bit of a serious one, and chances are, if you've got this, the last thing on your mind will be going out for a nice curry. 

Strep throat, or to use the full term 'group A streptococcus' is a bacterial infection that attacks your throat and tonsils. This can leave your throat feeling swollen and raw. As it is a bacterial infection you may also have a temperature, which can make you feel pretty lousy. 

It is very possible to spread strep throat, so its best not to be in company if you can avoid it. 

The good news is, that as you'll see below, curry contains a fair amount of anti bacterial ingredients, si provided you can stand the heat, its safe to eat with a sore throat

Continuous Coughing

If you've got a chronic cough then this can quickly cause you to strain the muscles at the back of your throat and lead to pain, every time you cough.

While I resolutely say you can eat curry with a sore throat, this might be one of those conditions where you will want to give it a miss...


Spicy food could make you cough even more, which won't do anything for you if you've already got throat pain.


Tonsillitis is another of those conditions where I doubt you'll much be in the mood for a curry.

The tonsils are glands at the back of your throat that are great at helping your body fight infection. The bad news is, when they are in action they can swell up, making you feel really lousy. You can expect to have a high temperature, a feeling of lethargy, not to mention significant throat pain.

If this is the case, I'd say go for a nice cup of sweet tea and a few paracetamol instead of reaching for the madras.

All that said, can you eat curry with a sore throat?

The ingredients in curry can have lots of positive effects that will help your symptoms in the short term and encourage longer term well-being. Let’s go through how eating a nice curry can help with a sore throat.

9 Reasons Why It's Good to Eat Curry With a Sore Throat

1. Chilli is Antibacterial

Depending on your curry choice, there may be a fair amount of chilli in your curry. Chilli is what causes curry to be hot, whether in powdered form or fresh. The good news is that capsaicin, the ‘hot’ element in chilli, also has antibacterial properties. In fact, chilli kills streptococci, the exact cause of ‘strep throat’.

This means that with each mouthful of curry, you are doing your part to kill those nasty bacteria that are causing you to feel sick.

2. Curry can Help Lessen the Pain of a Sore Throat

While you may experience a burning to start with, you should find that your sore throat actually feels a lot better once this recedes.


Capsaicin, the hot element in chilli, can cause nerves to become less sensitive after the initial exposure. According to this study found in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, chilli  “is well recognized to cause pain and sensitization of both peripheral and central nerves, it can also lead to desensitization and withdrawal of epidermal nerve fibres.

The non-technical version?

Chilli might burn to start with but will leave your nerves in a less sensitive state once you get over the initial heat.

3. Garlic, Ginger and Onions Are Good for Sore Throats

Generally speaking, curry is packed full of garlic, ginger and onions. This ‘holy trinity’ of superfoods all contribute to making you feel better in several ways. Here’s some of the good in each

  • Onions – Studies have shown that onions are full of antioxidants and have unique antibacterial properties. To make it even more effective, according to the study just mentioned, “it also possesses anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties”. So not only will do onions kill germs, they can reduce swelling too.
  • Garlic – For literally millennia, garlic has been well known for its healing properties. It has featured in home remedies for years. Garlic contains a compound called allicin, released when garlic is crushed and produces a pungent odour. Allicin is another antibacterial compound.
  • Ginger – Fresh garlic is another superfood that features heavily in curries. It has long been used as a cure for feelings of sickness. It is also a diaphoretic, which encourages you to perspire, which is just what you need to ‘sweat out’ illnesses and regulate your temperature. Studies have shown that it is particularly effective against respiratory viruses.

4. Eating Curry can Reduce Throat Inflammation

If you are feeling a little run down, your body could need a helping hand. Sore throats can be caused by the soft tissues and glands at the back of your throat swelling up as they fight an infection. Anything that brings this swelling down can help to alleviate discomfort.

Enter turmeric.

If you’ve read my article on making your own curry powder, you’ll already know that turmeric features heavily in most Indian dishes. Turmeric is loaded with a compound called curcumin. According to the US National Institute of Health, “It aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions”.

A reduction of inflammatory conditions? Why wouldn’t you want to take it?

5. Curry is Diaphoretic

Ever felt a little ‘hot under the collar’ when tucking into a dish full of curry?

No, it isn’t your temperature. Spicy foods can make you sweat a little. This is warm feeling might be particularly welcome if you have been having a cold spell or just can’t get warm, as is often the case if you are feeling under the weather.

6. Curry Increases Saliva Production

One of the main things people notice when eating spicy food is that their nose runs. This is a result of your nose and throat beginning to produce excess mucus. (Disgusting, I know, sorry).

This is really beneficial if you have a sore throat.


Increased saliva and mucus help to wash away all of those nasty bacteria. Think of it a little like giving your throat a good rinse. Nobody likes having a dry and scratchy throat. Anything that makes this less so will help you to swallow.

7. Curry is Nutritionally Complete

When you are feeling a bit crook, you need to keep your strength up. If you’ve had a nasty bout of illness, you can be left feeling particularly weak.

The answer?

Pack the calories in! As a meal goes (and provided you make sensible choices), curry can actually be really nutritionally balanced.

According to nutritionix, a single cup of curry contains 28 grams of protein (which your body uses to regenerate new cells) And a decent portion of fats and carbohydrates, which your body will use for energy!

Oh, and don’t let me forget. It also contains vitamin C too, great if you’ve got a cold!

8. Curry is Comfort Food

Health benefits aside, if you’ve had a sore throat, you probably aren’t in the best of moods?

Let me brighten your day.

Eating a nice curry is a real treat. It’s proper comfort food. There’s nothing nicer than sitting down to a steaming bowl of madras. If the thought of spice doesn’t appeal, how’s about giving a rich and mild korma a go?

If you order it in, you won’t even have to cook it!

9. Got A Sore Throat? Curry is Easy to Swallow

When you’ve got a sore throat, it can be hard to swallow certain foods.

Dry toast?

No, thanks!

If you are wise about your curry choice, some can be really easy to swallow, avoiding further irritation or you wincing with each bite. Even the NHS recommends eating soft foods

Opt for something relatively soft. A good portion of daal tadka is ideal. This is made with soft and creamy lentils. Alternatively, lamb dishes are always pretty tender too (not to mention tasty).

Does Curry Soothe a Sore Throat | Final Thoughts…

Provided you can stand the initial heat, curry is a great choice if you have a sore throat. It is full of ingredients that have anti-inflammatory and medicinal qualities. It also provokes responses from the body that can lessen symptoms, such as increased saliva production. Not forgetting, of course, that it tastes great, and if you have felt ill, you deserve a treat. If you have a sore throat and the thought of spice is a little daunting, why not check my article on the mildest curries!


Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won't cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: - Literally, everything you'll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: - You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you'll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here...

Spice Storage: - Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That's why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I've got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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