By Chloe Rosette
Chili peppers, known mostly for their fiery and distinct flavor, are a fruit to spice up your health. Chilis are a versatile food and can be eaten cooked, raw, dried, or powdered. Most of the time you will see chili peppers used as ingredients in various dishes, sauces, and spice blends. There are a variety of types of chili peppers, including the jalapeno, poblano, and cayenne pepper, but regardless of the species chili peppers in general contain a plethora of health benefits. One of the key compounds found in this plant is capsaicin, and it is the primary phytochemical responsible for chilis’ taste and health benefits.
Capsaicin provides peppers with that spicy punch that many search for in the white rib of the pepper. It is one of the most studied compounds in chili peppers, and for good reason, it has some very beneficial and unique properties for those who consume it. One of things that’s exciting to learn for this rough cold and flu season is that chilis are extremely helpful in breaking up and dislodging any congestion. Capsaicin has also been studied for its ability to reduce pain and work as a muscle relaxant. It has been studied to bind to pain receptors in the body when its consumed, which is where the nerve endings that sense pain are located. Capsaicin also fights against inflammation and stimulates the release of insulin. Stimulating the release of insulin, the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood, may reduce blood sugar following a meal. Not only that, but eating chili peppers speeds up your heart rate and can strengthen your heart muscles as a result.
Chilis also contain vitamins and minerals with their own benefits for your health. Chilis are high in vitamin A and C, which can help reduce free radicals over time, assist in wound healing and immune function, and maintain healthy teeth. They also contain the vitamin B6, which positively impacts your energy metabolism, and vitamin K, which assists in bone health. If this blog post has persuaded you to include more chilies in your diet, reach out to our campus Registered Dietitian Amanda Reichardt. She can provide you with recipes and places on campus to find chili pepper filled recipes.