Friday, November 13, 2009

Some Like It Hot

Spice it up, mix it up, make it happen! The world is full of many wondrous things—like hot peppers. (OK, we may not all agree that hot peppers are “wondrous” things, but guess what? They’re good for you.)

Maybe you don’t need, or want food spiced with peppers so hot that the tears run down your cheeks, but there are some solid reasons to add “a little spice” to your life. Reasons like:

  • Clearing congestion
  • Help with weight loss
  • Help stop the spread of prostate cancer
  • Relieve pain
  • Boost immunity
  • Prevent stomach ulcers by killing bacteria
  • Reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels
  • Help fight and prevent cancers, including stomach cancer

It's all due to Capsaicin, a natural chemical that puts the "HOT" in hot peppers. It’s been clinically proven to relieve headaches and sinus inflammation, but capsaicin may also be the key to a healthy heart. Studies show hot peppers may prevent blood clots and heart disease by increasing blood flow. When ingested, capsaicin significantly activates the body's circulation process. Unlike drugs with stimulant side effects, it promotes circulatory blood flow through its' natural ability to conduct thermal heat while also inhibiting the nerve receptors that cause swelling and pain (as in arthritis). Red chili peppers, such as cayenne, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body's ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance connected to the formation of blood clots. Spicing your meals with chili peppers may also protect the fats in your blood from damage by free radicals—a first step in the development of atherosclerosis.

Several studies concentrating on gastrointestinal diseases have found that capsaicin also increases blood flow to the stomach and stimulates the production of digestive juices. One study in rats found evidence that capsaicin also protected against stomach damage caused by alcohol. A study on gastric disorders at Duke University, showed capsaicin may actually lead to a cure for certain intestinal diseases. The Duke team found that a specific nerve cell receptor appears to be necessary to initiate the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), findings they believe could change the way physicians treat this disorder.

All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, but red peppers are stuffed with them. The antioxidant vitamins A and C help prevent cell damage, cancer, and diseases related to aging, and they support immune function. They also reduce inflammation like that found in arthritis and asthma. Vitamin K promotes proper blood clotting, strengthens bones, and helps protect cells from oxidative damage. Red peppers are also a good source of the carotenoid lycopene (also found in tomatoes), which is earning a reputation for helping to prevent prostate cancer as well as cancer of the bladder, cervix, and pancreas. Furthermore, hot peppers trigger metabolic activity which can lead to increased calorie burn and greater weight loss.

And this concludes today’s lesson on hot peppers and capsaicin. So, spice up your life (always good advice)—and with fire on your tongue and a tear in your eye—your health.

1 comment:

Henri said...

I love this post...mainly because I love hot peppers! Some people like things so hot their eye lids sweat...(count me in)! I am hoping that chipotle peppers are in the "good" hot pepper group. I love chipotle chicken salad!