Do you want to eat well without sacrificing flavor? Hot peppers are not only delicious, they have unexpected health benefits as well! Central and South America were using hot peppers for centuries before Columbus brought them to Europe. The indigenous people of this area used the hot pepper for their culinary and medical uses. Modern research is uncovering even more benefits today.
A special nutrient in hot peppers can improve your health. This nutrient is called capsaicin. It provides the heat in hot peppers and hot sauce. There are unexpected health benefits of capsaicin that researchers are still identifying.
Read on to learn about how hot peppers and hot sauce may improve your diet and your health.
What is Capsaicin?
Capsaicin is a phytochemical in hot peppers. It’s the ingredient that causes the health benefits of hot peppers and hot sauce. It is located in the interior of hot peppers. Cut a pepper in half and you’ll find the most capsaicin concentrated in the veiny areas.
Dr. Cronin explains further in the Alternative and Complementary Therapies peer-reviewed journal. Although you may think of pepper seeds as spicy, they aren’t the source of capsaicin. Instead the heat in pepper seeds comes from their proximity to the source of capsaicin in the pepper.
Read on to learn the 5 main health benefits of capsaicin.
Can Capsaicin in Hot Peppers Help Beat Cancer?
Scientists from the Wayne State University School of Medicine found that capsaicin prevents the growth of human breast and leukemia cancer cells. In fact, the research showed that capsaicin helps kill these cancer cells.
But don’t worry, capsaicin doesn’t kill all cells in your body. These effects only applied to cancer cells.
There is hope that capsaicin may apply to cancers beyond leukemia and breast cancer. Research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports that capsaicin makes tumor cells commit suicide. Capsaicin interacts with neural receptors in a way that causes a chain of chemical reactions. The end results is apoptosis, or a cell’s way of shutting itself down, in tumor cells.
Improve Heart Health and Prevent Diabetes
Could hot peppers do even more for your health than prevent cancer? The Federation of European Biochemical Societies published research that suggests yes.
The study explains that capsaicin improves heart health and helps prevent diabetes.
Excessive weight gain causes inflammation that plays a role in type II diabetes and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes complications such as heart disease. But adipokines help reduce this inflammation. Capsaicin boosts adipokines. Keep capsaicin in your diet and you will help the body protect itself against disease.
Can Hot Peppers Help You Lose Weight?
The British Journal of Nutrition published research that shows capsaicin may make you feel less hungry.
Evidence suggests that capsaicin helps people eat less of various calorie sources. One study using Japanese women showed that capsaicin reduced the amount of fat and protein eaten. Another study with caucasian men showed that capsaicin reduced the amount of carbohydrates consumed.
At the same time, capsaicin increases your metabolism and burns more calories. Unfortunately, this results in a negligible amount of calories burnt, so this isn’t as compelling as capsaicin’s effect on appetite.
And don’t forget that hot peppers and hot sauce are low calorie ways to add flavor to your food. Hot sauce has zero calories and adds more flavor than most other condiments.
Can Peppers Lower Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
High sodium diets, lack of exercise, and genetics are causes of high blood pressure. But it turns out that hot peppers may be able to help.
The British Cardiovascular Society reports that capsaicin decreases blood pressure. These benefits are strongest for people who are at risk of hypertension.
The researchers explain that this is because capsaicin has a positive effect on the kidney. In other words, hot peppers make the kidneys flush more sodium out of the body.
This doesn’t mean hot peppers will cancel out excess sodium in your diet. But hot peppers may help prevent an unhealthy build up of sodium.
What nutrients are in hot sauce?
Hot sauce contains vitamin A, folate, magnesium and potassium. It may be a shock to you that hot sauce is rich in nutrients. But keep in mind that the hot peppers used to make hot sauce are as rich in nutrients as most vegetables are.
Peppers have significant amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C. The average pepper contains more than 77,000 units of vitamin A, which is about fifteen times the minimum daily requirement. It also contains about 160 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s four times the minimum daily requirement of vitamin C.
Which Peppers Are The Healthiest?
When it comes to health, think in terms of heat.
The hotter the pepper, the healthier it is. Bell peppers don’t have capsaicin, but most other peppers do. The amount differs by variety of pepper. For example, jalapeños can have 16 times the heat of banana peppers. While you can explore the measured heat of each pepper in our hot sauce heat index, you probably already knew that jalapeños were hotter than banana peppers.
And don’t forget, hot sauce has all benefits of a hot pepper because of its high capsaicin content.
Don’t Wait To Get The Health Benefits of Hot Peppers
Hot peppers have stood the test of time. Researchers have shown that capsaicin can improve heart health, prevent diabetes, and prevent cancer. Hot peppers can even lower blood pressure and make you feel less hungry.
There has never been an easier way to make your food more interesting than with hot peppers. The best news of all might be that hot sauce has these benefits because capsaicin provides the heat for hot sauce. So, open a bottle of hot sauce today and enjoy!