Do you enjoy spicy foods? Especially hot peppers?
But wait, they are hot!
In addition to making our mouths tingle and eyes water, eating hot peppers has several surprising health benefits, from reducing pain to preventing some cancers and living longer.
Eating hot peppers is actually good for your health?!
These hot peppers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors.
While some are spicy, such as jalapeño, habanero, and cayenne, others are sweet and mild, including bell, poblano, and Anaheim.
Peppers are versatile vegetables, and can be purchased fresh, dried, canned, picked, or even frozen. Whether used as a standalone snack or as a flavor enhancer in meals, peppers offer a trove of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, B, A, as well as potassium and magnesium.
However, the compound most associated with hot peppers is capsaicin, which gives peppers their distinctive heat.
Recent studies indicate the compounds and vitamins, particularly capsaicin, may be responsible for a host of health benefits.
Here are eight of them.
1. Prevent Certain Cancers
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, several studies have shown that capsaicin may have the ability to prevent and fight certain cancers, including lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
Specifically, clinical tests have indicated that capsaicin disrupts a cancer cell’s energy source, resulting in the death of the cancer cells, while leaving surrounding healthy cells unharmed.
2. Improve Heart Health
Several studies have been performed noting the link between consuming hot peppers and improved heart health.
According to Everyday Health, researchers have found that capsaicin has been found to lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and increase circulation.
3. Reduce Arthritic Pain and Inflammation
Many studies have found that capsaicin eases the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia. According to the Arthritis Foundation, capsaicin in cream or ointment form can be applied to areas of pain, which will stimulate the release of a compound that communicates pain between the nerves and the brain.
4. Increase Longevity
Researchers have found that there may be a link between the consumption of hot chili peppers and living a longer life. In one study performed by researchers from Harvard University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences that lasted several years, participants who regularly ate spicy foods (including fresh and dried chili pepper) had a 14% lower risk of premature death compared to those who rarely ate spicy foods.
The researchers, who published their findings in the British Medical Journal, noted that while more research is necessary, those participants who opted for fresh over dried chilies tended to have a lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
5. Control Weight
Consuming hot peppers may help you lose weight by firing up your metabolism and curbing your appetite.
According to the National Institute of Health, researchers have also found that consuming capsaicin may help convert white fat tissue to healthier brown fat tissue, which in turn could increase the number of calories burned and reduce the risk for weight-related diseases, such as high blood sugar and diabetes.
6. Cure Sinus Pain
Studies published in several journals have found that capsaicin may also help alleviate sinus pain and congestion.
According to one study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, a nasal spray containing capsaicin was found to successfully treat and control symptoms associated with non-allergic sinus issues, including congestion, pain, and pressure.
7. Reduce Food-Related Illness
According to Science Daily, a Cornell University study found that hot peppers and other hot spices have antimicrobial properties, which can reduce the incidence of food-related illness from bacteria, including listeria and salmonella.
8. Boost Immune System
According to NPR, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton eats hot peppers daily to boost her immunity while on the campaign trail. In addition to the health benefits of capsaicin, hot peppers are also loaded with vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of common colds.
Over to You
Next time you make your taco or burrito, dice up a little jalepeno or take a big scoop of salsa for your meal. It will do your body some good!
Over to you – do you like spicy food?