Hot Chile peppers have lots of health benefits that most of us don’t ever think about. Say the words “hot sauce” and most people think spicy, pain, heartburn, tears. Just about anyone who has eaten the really hot stuff would say you must be crazy eating this stuff. But hot peppers, hot sauce, and hot salsas are some of the healthiest foods on the planet.
There are several studies in the works right now where researchers are trying to link hot peppers to the treatment and / or prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Inflammation, Weight Loss, and some cancers.
Hot Peppers’ Cool Secret
There are literally 1000’s of different types of hot peppers, and they all seem to possess some of the same perks.
They are low in calories, sugars and carbohydrates. They have almost zero fats and cholesterol. And perhaps most surprising; they have extraordinary amounts of Vitamin C. Bet ya didn’t see that one coming, did ya?
Vitamin C is related to increased metabolism, immune functions, healing wounds, is an antioxidant, and is necessary for healthy skin, teeth, and bones.
But the list of benefits doesn’t stop there. Hot peppers contain Vitamin A and flavonoids which bring health rewards such as anti-aging properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and they even help to lower blood pressure.
The real shocker though, is capsaicin. Capsaicin is a colorless part of the plant that gives hot peppers their heat, and can also be used for PAIN RELIEF. Yes capsaicin is so powerful that it’s often used as a main ingredient in lots of pain relieving creams.
Despite the above uses, Capsaicin is found in hot peppers, hot sauces, and hot salsas. In a fresh hot pepper Capsaicin is found in the tissue that holds the seeds and in the walls of the pepper.So that age old saying that it’s the seeds that bring the heat is false. The seeds can be hot but the real heat comes from the Capsaicin.
The Scoville Scale is the measure of how hot a pepper is. The lower end of the scale is a traditional Anaheim Pepper, or Sriracha Sauce, ringing in at 2500 – 5000 Scoville Units. On the other extreme, the hottest pepper known to man right now is the Carolina Reaper, which rings up 1.5 – 2.5 million Scoville Units. Pure Capsaicin is about 16 million Scoville units. Now that’s hot!
Does Cancer Hate Spicy Foods?
The average Chile pepper is a simple plant, but scientists are just beginning to understand peppers. Researchers are working on linking hot peppers to the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, weight loss and cancer. Capsaicin does something completely incredible. It causes cells – more importantly cancer cells — to undergo cellular suicide.
A Hot Diet Aid
Spicy foods slow your appetite and help with weight loss, which makes sense, because setting fire to your mouth tends to slow down how much you eat while your lips and tongue are blazing.
Researchers at Purdue University found that hot peppers can curb your appetite. Of the 25 participants in the study, 13 liked spicy foods and 12 did not. The study showed that the people who didn’t eat hot peppers regularly but who were given cayenne pepper in their food had a decrease in appetite for fatty, salty and sweet foods.
There is even a book called “The Hot Sauce Diet: A Journey in Behavior Modification.”
There is a “Hot Sauce Diet” that I’ve heard of that goes something like this – – You eat hot sauce with all of your meals and you will eat less food and drink more water.
Lots of dieticians tell their patients to eat hot peppers.
Don’t forget that Capsaicin IS the same stuff that police spray into unruly crowds. Hence the name “pepper spray”, but the biggest danger to most people who eat hot peppers or hot sauce is getting it on your skin and rubbing it in your eyes, which I can attest to, is the worst feeling in the world.
Foods With Benefits
It turns out there’s a link between upbeat and funky personalities and spicy food preferences. You probably already knew this based on how many gallons of hot sauce yours truly has consumed over a lifetime thus far!!
This brings us to the final benefit: mental health. Eating spicy peppers feels good. Capsaicin fires up pain receptors in the mouth and nose, which creates a burning feeling that gets sent to the brain. The brain reacts by releasing endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the body that produce a feeling of well-being. So do yourself and all of the rest of us a favor and go eat something spicy. It’ll make ya feel good.