Health Benefits of Chili, Chili Peppers, and Chili Powder

Chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) are the fruits of Capsicum pepper plants, notable for their hot flavor.

They are members of the nightshade family, related to bell peppers and tomatoes. Many varieties of chili peppers exist, such as cayenne and jalapeño.

Chili peppers are primarily used as a spice and can be cooked or dried and powdered. Powdered, red chili peppers are known as paprika.

Capsaicin is the main bioactive plant compound in chili peppers, responsible for their unique, pungent taste and many of their health benefits.

Nutrition facts

The nutrition facts for 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of raw, fresh, red chili peppers are

  • Calories: 6
  • Water: 88%
  • Protein: 0.3 grams
  • Carbs: 1.3 grams
  • Sugar: 0.8 grams
  • Fiber: 0.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams

Health Benefits

If you enjoy spicy foods, then there’s a good chance that you’ve come across chili at least once in your life. Edible at every stage — from the seed to the full-grown chili pepper — this spicy vegetable is easy to grow and abundant all over the world. Chilis are especially popular in Mexican and Asian cuisine, but can be added to almost any food to add a pop of flavor and spice.

Health benefits of Chili pepper includes improves digestive health and metabolism, alleviates migraines, may reduce risks of cancer, fights fungal infections, colds, and the flu, provides joint pain relief, fights inflammation, supports cardiovascular health, may improve cognitive functions, may improve longevity, promotes red blood cell growth, improve ocular health and keeps your hair and skin healthy and more.

Chili peppers are popular for their ability to improve the taste of any meal with their hot flavor. However, chili peppers are more than just a little bit of heat. Chili peppers are mainly used as a spice and this can be cooked or powdered and dried.

Improves Digestive Health and Metabolism

One of the biggest advantages of capsaicin is its contribution to gut health and weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, chili peppers can actually be an anti-irritant to your stomach and a great way to treat stomach ulcers.

Secondly, chili peppers, especially in its powder form, is rich in antioxidants and other compounds that can soothe other digestive issues, like upset stomachs, intestinal gas, diarrhea, and cramps. Peppers are able to accomplish this because they stimulate gastric juices and work against the acidity in your digestive tract.

Thirdly, chili peppers can accelerate your metabolism. By speeding up your metabolism, you curb your cravings and improve the rate at which you burn fat. In general, it is thought that the consumption of chili peppers along with other healthy lifestyle practices can improve weight loss.

Clear a Runny Nose

Got a sneezy, runny, or stopped-up nose that your doctor calls non-allergic rhinitis? That’s when your nose runs constantly but it’s not from a cold, allergies, or cigarette smoke. If so, then a whiff of capsaicin may help calm your symptoms. It’ll smart at first, and may even seem to worsen your misery. But capsaicin will kick in soon after. Your stuffiness might not bother you for a few months.

Prevent Heart Disease

Because spicy food is often associated with heartburn, you may worry about eating chili peppers if you have problems with your heart. But heartburn is a bit of a misnomer and actually has nothing to do with your heart.

In fact, when it comes to preventing heart disease, spicy foods may be exactly what your body needs. Studies show that the capsaicin in hot peppers can reduce inflammation and decrease the chances of heart disease.

Fights Fungal Infections, Colds, and the Flu

The characteristic red color of chili peppers is an indication that it is rich in beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Vitamin A is key in maintaining a healthy respiratory, intestinal, and urinary system. Also, vitamin A and vitamin C in the chili peppers are vital in building up your immunity against infections and illnesses.

If you suffer from congestion or allergies, a capsaicin nasal spray can help relieve your symptoms. Moreover, capsaicin has a number of antibacterial properties that can fight chronic sinus infections.

If you are suffering from a high fever, hot chili peppers can not only relieve the pain, but they can also stimulate the immune system to fight off the virus.

Chili peppers can also be used for their anti-fungal properties. Specifically, it can kill food pathogens, bacteria like H. pylori and cure a number of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Fights Inflammation

Another one of capsaicin’s valuable characteristics is that it inhibits substance P, which is a neuropeptide that is responsible for inflammatory processes. As such, capsaicin is thought to be a potential treatment for a number of sensory nerve disorders, such as arthritis pain, diabetic neuropathy, and psoriasis.

An animal study found that animals who were treated with a substance that caused inflammatory arthritis responded well to a diet high in capsaicin. Thanks to the diet, the animals experienced a delayed development of arthritis and a significant decrease in inflammation throughout their bodies.

Provides Joint Pain Relief

In addition to being a natural source of pain relief for headaches and migraines, chili peppers can be used to reduce joint pain. Essentially, you can apply the chili pepper to the skin to reduce the presence of chemical P. Chemical P is the compound responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain.

Capsaicin binds with pain receptors and induces a burning sensation that may desensitize your pain receptors over time. In this way, capsaicin acts as a pain reliever. Typically, it can be used to treat shingles, joint pain, and HIV neuropathy.

May Improve Longevity

A study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences discovered that people who consume spicy food have a better chance of having a longer life. In other words, common spices have the potential to increase a person’s chance to live a longer, healthy life.

Over the course of seven years, the researchers found that individuals who ate spicy foods three to seven times a week has a smaller chance of experiencing cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.

This can be credited to capsaicin’s ability to reduce inflammation, clear the respiratory tract, and overall reduce the development of lifelong diseases.

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Decrease Risks of Type 2 Diabetes

In addition to maintaining your heart health, chili peppers can reduce the risk of developing high blood levels of insulin, which is a common symptom of Type 2 Diabetes.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a number of Australian scientists discovered that a meal containing chili pepper can result in the right amount of insulin to reduce blood sugar levels.

This is a particularly useful fact for individuals with high BMIs or those who suffer from obesity. Lastly, remember that chili peppers are high in antioxidants, cartenoids, and vitamin C. These contribute greatly to insulin regulation as well.

Promotes Red Blood Cell Growth

In addition to maintaining heart health, chili peppers can also help with new blood cell formation. This is due to the fact that chili peppers are rich in copper and iron. As such, they are able to treat symptoms of anemia and fatigue.

Additionally, chili peppers also contain folic acid, which is key to fighting anemia and producing healthy red blood cells. This is particularly valuable for pregnant women because a deficiency in folic acid could mean birth defects in newborn babies.

Keeps Your Hair and Skin Healthy

The vitamin C in chili peppers does not just strengthen your immune system. It also creates and maintains collagen, which is a key protein found in healthy hair and skin. Specifically, cayenne pepper is a great natural ingredient that can add some spice to a beauty routine.

Cayenne pepper can be mixed into a face mask to deal with skin inflammation. It can also treat wrinkles, acne scars, and dark spots. Cayenne pepper is able to do this because it essentially stimulates blood flow which leads to flawless skin.

Mixed with olive oil, cayenne pepper can also make a great hair mask to bring some luster and shine to your hair.

Bottom Line

Chili peppers are a popular spice in many parts of the world and well known for their hot, pungent flavor.

They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and various unique plant compounds.

These include capsaicin, the substance that causes your mouth to burn. Capsaicin is linked to several health benefits, as well as adverse effects.

On one hand, it may help promote weight loss and relieve pain when consumed regularly.

On the other hand, it causes a burning sensation, which is unpleasant for many people, especially those not used to eating chili peppers. It’s also linked to digestive upset.

It’s important to pay attention to your own tolerance levels when eating chili peppers. Using them as a spice may be healthy, but those who experience digestive distress should avoid them.

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