Health Benefits of Chili Pepper
The capsaicin in the Capsicum has numerous health benefits. Some of them are as follows:
- Capsaicin is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes and predisposition to heart ailments.
- Capsaicin is being researched as a potential treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. When animals injected with a substance that causes inflammatory arthritis were fed a diet that contained capsaicin, they had delayed onset of arthritis.
- Topical capsaicin is now a recognized treatment option for osteoarthritis pain too. Several review studies of pain management seem to list benefits of topical capsaicin to alleviate disabling pain associated with this condition.
- Fibrin is a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Chili peppers have been known to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation by increasing the body's ability to dissolve fibrin. It is observed that cultures where hot pepper is used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack and stroke. Research also shows that consuming judicious amounts of chili peppers may also protect the fats in the blood from damage by free radicals—a first step in the development of atherosclerosis.
- Capsaicin helps to clear congestion as well. The heat stimulates secretions that help get rid of mucus from the stuffed up nose.
- Chili peppers' bright red color signals its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Even a small amount of red chili pepper provides vitamins C and A in abundance. Both the vitamins help boost immunity and fight against free radical damage. Vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes that line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract and serve as the body's defense against foreign substances.
- A study published in the 2006 issue of Cancer Research states that Capsaicin triggers suicide in both primary types of prostate cancer cell lines, those whose growth is stimulated by male hormones and those not affected by them. Scientists have proven that capsaicin can reduce cancer cells. There have been several scientific clinical studies completed that have shown that natural capsaicin directly slows and reduces the growth of leukemia cells.
- Capsaicin has a thermogenic effect. Consuming loads of chili peppers can be an added benefit. The body upbeats the body’s metabolism and all the heat that one feels after eating hot chili peppers takes energy--and calories to produce. Sweet red peppers are also found to comprise of substances that drastically increase and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after they are eaten. It is an active ingredient in most of the fat burning tablets commercially available.
- Researchers at the University of Tasmania recently completed a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2000. The study suggests that chilies reduce the insulin secretion by 60% after eating. Insulin is an anabolic hormone and aids fat storage. So regulated spike in insulin levels could benefit overweight or diabetics. Thus the regular consumption of chilies could help body control insulin levels after eating.
- Capsicum is a natural muscle relaxant. There are also a number of creams that have capsicum in them to soothe painful muscles.
- Chilies also slow down the growth of H. pylori, the bacteria that causes certain kinds of ulcers.
- Rao, S. “Red Chillies and Potassium content, health benefits and importance of chilly, Green chillies for health”, March, 2011
- Mori A, Lehmann S, O''Kelly J, Kumagai T, Desmond J, Pervan M, McBride W, Kizaki M, Koeffler HP. Capsaicin, a Component of Red Peppers, Inhibits the Growth of Androgen-Independent, p53 Mutant Prostate Cancer Cells. Cancer Res 2006 Mar 15;66(6):3222-9. 2006. PMID:16540674.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 1, 63-69, July 2006
© 2006 American Society for Nutrition
- Ahuja K, Robertson IK et al. “Effects of chili consumption on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy metabolism” School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2006 Vol. 84, No. 1, 63-69
- Gopalan C, Rama Sastri B.V, Balasubramanian, S.C, Nutritive Value of Indian Foods, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, 2002.