If you are a huge fan of chili pepper, then you are not only enjoying the hot taste but also getting a lot of health benefits from the food. Chili peppers, like cayenne and jalapenos, are rich in vitamins, minerals, and various unique plant compounds.
The main component in chili is a compound called capsaicin, which is responsible for the intense heat sensation and many of their health effects. Capsaicin has been linked to improve blood vessels function, lower bad cholesterol, suppress tumor growth, etc.
In addition, chili peppers are rich sources of vitamin C. A single red or green chili can give you about 240% of RDA for vitamin C. They are also good sources vitamin A, and flavonoids like beta carotene, alpha carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in chilies help to protect the body from free radicals damage and various diseases. Chilies also contain significant amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium, which are essential for your overall health.
Health Benefits of Chili Peppers
1. Promote Weight Loss
Capsaicin, one of the sources of spiciness in chilies, may be able to help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism. Apart from that, capsaicin present in chili pepper has a thermogenic effect that may cause the body to burn more calories and thus it can help you lose weight quickly.
2. Cancer Prevention
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to kill certain cancer and leukemic cells. Likewise turmeric, a peppery-flavored spice, found in curry powder and some mustards can slow the spread of cancer and tumors growth.
The American Cancer Society suggests that capsaicin killed 80 percent of prostate cancer cells in mice. Further studies on humans are needed, so it is not recommended for treatment at this time.
3. Improve Heart Health
Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in cayenne pepper, red chili peppers and jalapenos, may help protect your heart too. According to a study presented in the American Chemical Society, capsaicin helps reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the body by increasing its breakdown rate. The medical team also found that capsaicin blocks a gene that narrows the arteries, thus improving heart health.
4. Improve Longevity
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences looked at the eating habits of nearly half a million people aged 30-79 in China over seven years found that people who ate six or seven times a week had a 14 percent lower risk of death, compared to people who added heat to their meal less than once a week. It also found that taking spicy foods just two days in a week lowered the risk of death by 10 percent.
5. Boost Immune System
Chili peppers are also known to strengthen immune system as they contain a lot of vitamin A & C. These vitamins play an important role in in fighting colds and flus. Chili pepper is also loaded with beta carotene and antioxidants that support your immune system.
6. Relieve Pain
Due to the capsaicin present in the chili pepper, it can also act as a pain reliever. It works by desensitizing sensory receptors in your skin. Chili also helps in relieving arthritic pains in the extremities.
7. Anti-Microbial Properties
Studies have shown that capsaicin present in many spices, like chili peppers, have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which is why they are often used as food preservatives.
8. Clear Nasal Congestion
For people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, and other respiratory problems, spicy food can sometimes help you breathe better by opening up clogged nasal passages. So, next time you’re stuffed up, try eating spicy foods. However, make sure that you take spicy foods in a moderate amount.
Side Effects of Chili Peppers
While there are a lot of benefits of eating chili peppers, but eating too much can cause intestinal distress in some people. The symptoms may include abdominal pain, burning sensation in the gut, cramps, and painful diarrhea. For this reason, people with stomach ulcer may want to limit the intake as too much heat may worsen the condition. However, if you don’t have one, it doesn’t seem likely that eating spicy food will give you one.
When it comes to relief from spicy foods, you can cool your tongue by drinking milk. Milk contains protein casein which works to wash capsaicin molecules away from the nerve receptors in your mouth. Capsaicin doesn’t dissolve in water, so drinking water doesn’t quench the heat but the fact that it just redistributes the capsaicin around you mouth or down your throat.