Almost everyone knows chili peppers for their ‘heat’ or ‘spiciness’ but not a lot of people are aware of just how healthy this food is. Chili peppers offer a number of health benefits, which comes as no surprise considering the fact that they contain many different key nutrients. Chili peppers are noted for containing a good amount of vitamins A, B6, K1, and C, potassium, copper, iron, capsanthin, lutein, and capsaicin. The most important of all these nutrients is capsaicin, which is a plant compound responsible for many different health benefits of chili peppers. There are countless varieties of chili peppers, each with a different shape, color, heat factor, and unique flavor.
Top 15 Health Benefits of Chili Peppers
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
The insulin that’s required to lower your blood sugar levels after you eat a meal is significantly lower if the meal you eat contains chili peppers. Chili peppers are also known for increasing the rate at which the liver clears insulin in overweight people. This all contributes to a reduced risk of diabetes.
Chili peppers contain a very healthy bioactive plant compounds known as capsaicin. This compound is significant for your health because it binds with pain receptors, thus providing you with pain relief. However, you should know that consuming a lot of capsaicin can damage your pain receptors over time.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
More specifically, chili peppers are known for helping protect you from prostate cancer. Capsaicin is responsible for this health benefit as well. This compound will help you by slowing down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
The reason why chili peppers can help you fight inflammation is once again due to their capsaicin content. By eating chilies regularly, you will minimize the effects of certain auto-inflammatory diseases like arthritis and rheumatoid have on your body. Capsaicin can help you by reducing the swelling of sore joints and increasing your blood flow. It’s worth noting that the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. This substance will not only help you fight inflammation, but it will also have a positive effect on your sensory nerve disorders, thus reducing the intensity of the pain that’s associated with psoriasis and arthritis.
Stronger Immune System
Red chili peppers are known for strengthening your immune system, mostly because they contain a lot of pro-vitamin A and beta-carotene. Eating only two teaspoons of dried red chili peppers will provide you with over 10 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A. This vitamin plays an important role in maintaining the strength of your immune system.
In the recent years, obesity has become quite a widespread health condition. Becoming obese is a call for some serious concern, seeing how this condition can lead to many chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Thankfully, the previously mentioned plant compound called capsaicin is known for increasing fat burning and reducing appetite. This is exactly why chili peppers can help you lose weight.
Prevention of Stomach Ulcers
Some time ago, scientists believed that chili peppers could actually cause stomach ulcers, but now we know that this simply isn’t true. On the contrary, chili peppers are known for killing bacteria that you ingest, thus actually preventing stomach ulcers.
Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an extremely important nutrient that can help prevent a number of different health problems, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
Improved Heart Health
Cayenne peppers have a reputation of preventing the formation of blood clots and lowering your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This means that by consuming cayenne peppers, you’ll have a lower risk of suffering from a stroke, pulmonary embolism, or heart attack. Chili peppers are also known for significantly lowering the rate of oxidation in your body.
Lower Blood Pressure Levels
Chili peppers are a great source of potassium, a mineral known for decreasing blood pressure levels. This food also contains a good amount of folate, which helps you maintain proper blood flow.
Improved Eye Health
Like we previously mentioned, chili peppers contain a lot of vitamin A, a nutrient your body needs in order to maintain and/or improve your eyesight. This vitamin is also responsible for reducing the risk of macular degeneration and night blindness as you age.
Improved Cognitive Function
Chili peppers are a good source of iron, which is a mineral essential for maintaining proper blood flow. When you consume the right amount of iron on a daily basis, the hemoglobin production in your body will increase, which means that more oxygen will start reaching all parts of your body, including your brain. With more blood reaching your brain, you will notice an improvement in your focus, learning capabilities, and attention span. Additionally, improved cognitive function means that you’ll have a lower risk of developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Chili peppers are known for their ability to help you experience fewer headaches and migraines. They help you by blocking the effects of your brain’s neuropeptide known as Substance P. By blocking this chemical, not only will chili peppers prevent the occurrence of headaches, but it will also make you more relaxed.
Once again, we have capsaicin to thank for this health benefit. This compound can help clear mucus from your congested lungs or stuffed up nose.
Improved Hair and Skin Health
Chili peppers are a good source of vitamin C, a nutrient that’s able to create and maintain a compound known as collagen. This compound is an important protein that contributes to the health of your skin and hair.
12 Fun Facts about Chili Peppers
- Everyone knows that Mexicans eat a lot of chili peppers. But did you know that the average Mexican eats 0.5 kg of dried chilies and 6 kg of fresh chili peppers every year.
- Chili peppers were used as a currency in the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca civilizations.
- Elephants can’t stand the smell of chili peppers, and they often destroy the food when they see it. This is why African farmers have to attach their chili peppers to fences in order to stop elephants from destroying their crops.
- Jalapeno and chipotle peppers are actually the same plants, even though their taste is different. The difference in the flavor comes from how these peppers are treated after they get harvested.
- In Japan, you can play pepper roulette. This game features a pepper known as shishito, which has a mild flavor in most cases. However, one out of every ten of shishito peppers is really spicy, and you can never spot the difference between these two types of peppers just by looking at them.
- Although you usually see yellow, green, orange, and red bell peppers in your local supermarket, this pepper can be purple as well. Bell peppers are usually purple before they become red, orange, yellow, or green.
- No matter what they color they are, bell peppers are all the same plant. The difference in color depends only on the level of maturity of bell peppers.
- Birds are completely immune to the hotness of chili peppers.
- Chili peppers are believed to be the oldest condiment in the world. Scientists believe that people have been eating them for at least 9,000 years.
- When applied topically, cayenne peppers are able to help stop bleeding. Basically, these peppers can be used as first aid.
- In ancient Asia, people used peppers as weapons. They used to put them in bags and mix them with other hot spices, then throw the bags at their enemies.
- The thinner and smaller the chili peppers, the spicier they are.
Tips to Add More Chili Peppers into Your Diet
The great thing about chili peppers is that they can go along with pretty much any meal that you want to consume. As long as you want to add some ‘heat’ into your meal, you can chop up some chili peppers and include them in your dish. You can literally put them in almost any meal you can think of, such as sandwiches, soups, scrambled eggs, burgers, stews, stir-fries, or salads. If you like the taste of chili peppers, you can experiment and put them in various dishes that you prepare to find out in which meal it goes well. If you like chili peppers but don’t have a lot of tolerance for spicy foods, then just put less in your dish.
However, it’s worth noting that you should be careful when preparing meals that include fresh chili peppers. If certain parts of your skin, your lips, or eyes come in contact with chili peppers, you may experience a severe burning sensation. Because of this, many choose to wear rubber gloves during the preparation of meals that include chili peppers. If you don’t feel like doing this, just remember to thoroughly wash your hand after handling hot peppers. Don’t forget to carefully wash your cutting board and knife as well.
The hotness of a chili pepper depends on its variety. Therefore, you should always make sure to adjust the amount that you use when you’re preparing a meal.
Dangers and Side Effects of Eating Too Many Chili Peppers
The best-known side effect of eating too many chili peppers is the burning sensation you experience from consuming them. The substance that gives chili peppers its hot flavor is called capsaicin. When consumed in excess, capsaicin can cause redness, inflammation, severe pain, and swelling.
Some people experience abdominal pain and diarrhea when they eat chili peppers. These side effects are more common in people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, if you’re not used to eating them regularly, chili peppers can worsen symptoms of this syndrome.
If you suffer from asthma, then you should limit the number of chili peppers you consume. When they are eaten in big quantities, chili peppers can cause air passages to spasm, thus triggering an asthma attack.
When too many chili peppers reach your stomach and interact with the acid that’s in there, they can cause heartburn and acid reflux. The more you eat hot peppers throughout the day, the more likely this is to happen.
Chili peppers will undoubtedly improve your overall health. They offer different health benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced risk of cancer, stronger immune system, weight loss, and more. The fact that they can easily improve the taste of almost any meal is great news, considering that you have numerous ways to include this food into your diet. However, be cautious when determining how many chili peppers you will eat throughout the day. When consumed in excess, they can cause pain, inflammation, swelling, and redness. Also, if you’re not used to eating chili peppers but want to begin including them into your diet, make sure that you start with smaller quantities.