If you’ve been following this blog, you know I throw hot sauce on almost everything. From jalapeños to habaneros, I love me some spiciness. I recently started a garden. While I’ve done pretty well at killing off my other plants, my ghost peppers have made it. Survival of the fittest! I eat spicy foods for the culinary experience, but was delighted to learn of the health benefits of trying to set my tongue on fire.
Capsaicin is the compound that gives hot chilies their pop. Sweating your way through a meal burns off some extra calories and helps control your appetite. From the New York Times:
Generally, studies have shown that on average a meal containing a spicy dish, like a bowl of chili, can temporarily increase metabolism by about 8 percent over a person’s normal rate, an amount considered fairly negligible. But besides a slight uptick in metabolism, spicy foods may also increase feelings of satiety.
Some spicy foods have anti-cancer potential. From SFgate.com:
Turmeric, a peppery-flavored spice native to India, contains the active antioxidant cur cumin, which has shown some anti-cancer effects in lab studies. Though small studies have shown positive results, according to the Mayo Clinic, cur cumin requires further investigation before being used for cancer treatment. The American Cancer Society suggests that capsaicin may help slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Cultures that regularly eat foods rich in spice are less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. Capsaicin helps lower bad cholesterol and can reduce inflammation. Japan is consistently ranked near the best in the world at avoiding heart issues. Wasabi, anyone?
Overall Nutritional Value
Chili peppers’ bright color signals its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Two teaspoons of red chili peppers provide about 6% of the daily value for vitamin C coupled with more than 10% of the daily value for vitamin A. Some folks refer to vitamin A as the anti-infection vitamin due to the impact on healthy mucous membranes, the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens.
Grab the chili at your super bowl party and dump some extra hot sauce in there for your dead homeboys.