Hot Peppers & Their Health Benefits
From: "Capsaicin: 7 Powerful Health Benefits
(Including Killing Cancer Cells) of the Stuff that Makes Peppers HOT"
the active ingredient in chili peppers, is so hot
that it can make your mouth feel like it's on fire.
phytochemical exists in peppers, most likely, to
deter animals from eating them, and is also the active component of pepper
sprays used for self-defense.
Yet for humans, when
capsaicin is consumed in a somewhat diluted form, such as in hot sauce, chili peppers or cayenne peppers, it offers a myriad of
peppers are typically red or green in color, but there are hundreds of
different varieties out there.
come in hundreds of different varieties, each with a unique flavor,
color, shape and heat factor. Generally speaking, the hotter the pepper, the
more capsaicin it contains.
80 percent of the capsaicin in a chili pepper is in
its ribs and seeds, which is why much of the heat is removed when these items
are taken out.
those on the daring side, habañero and Scotch bonnet
peppers are two of the hottest chili pepper varieties
out there -- other than the fiery Indian chili pepper
called Naga Jolokia -- followed by the somewhat milder Spanish pimentos and Anaheim
and Hungarian cherry peppers.
popular varieties that vary in their "hotness" include cayenne, chipotle, jalapeno and ancho.
to add a little spice to your life? Here are seven reasons to turn up the heat
in your next meal.
Fight Cancer A
study published in Cancer Research found that capsaicin caused cancer cells to
commit suicide. The substance caused almost 80 percent of prostate cancer cells
to die in mice, and prostate tumors treated with
capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of those in untreated mice.
inhibits the growth of human prostate cancer cells in petri
dishes and mice," says lead researcher Dr. H. Phillip Koeffler,
director of hematology and oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
researchers say capsaicin pills may one day be used to prevent the return of
The Scoville Scale: How Hot is Your
Pepper? Hot peppers' heat is measured
using the Scoville Heat Scale. While pure capsaicin
measures in at over 16 million Scoville Units, most
popular varieties rank around 30,000.
peppers make up the baseline, at zero Scoville Units.
While the habañero pepper was once thought to be the
hottest pepper, measuring in at 300,000 units, an Indian chili
pepper called Naga Jolokia
was tested in 2000 and received a searing score of 855,000 units!
Provide Pain Relief A
topical form of capsaicin is a recognized treatment for osteoarthritis pain,
and may also help alleviate pain from diabetic neuropathy.
is also known to inhibit Substance P, a neuropeptide
that is the key transmitter of pain to the brain. Substance P can cause
swelling of nerve fibers, which may result in
headaches and sinus symptoms. Studies have found that capsaicin both relieves
and prevents cluster headaches, migraine headaches and sinus headaches.
Prevent Sinusitis and Relieve Congestion Capsaicin
has potent antibacterial properties that fight and prevent chronic sinus
infections, or sinusitis. Because it is so hot, it also helps to stimulate
secretions that help clear mucus from your nose, thereby relieving nasal
congestion. This phytochemical may also help relieve
sinus-related allergy symptoms.
Fight Inflammation Capsaicin
is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It works by inhibiting Substance P, which
is associated with inflammatory processes. Capsaicin is being looked at as a
potential treatment for arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.
Soothe Intestinal Diseases A Duke University study found that capsaicin may lead to a cure for
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The substance can also help to kill bacteria
such as H. pylori, which can help prevent stomach ulcers.
Burn Fat and Lose Weight Capsaicin
is a thermogenic agent, which means it increases
metabolic activity. This, in turn, helps to burn calories and fat. Many popular
"fat-burning" supplements on the market contain capsaicin, as the
substance may significantly increase metabolic activity for over 20 minutes
after it's eaten.
Protect Your Heart Capsaicin
may help to protect the heart by reducing cholesterol, triglycerides and
platelet aggregation. It may also help the body dissolve fibrin, which is
necessary for blood clots to form. Further, cultures around the world that use
hot peppers liberally in their meals have significantly lower rates of heart
attack and stroke than cultures that do not.