Stay Healthy, Think Spicy

Posted by Abigail Schmidt on July 25, 2014 (0 Comments)

Lets talk spicy food and healthy eating. My favorite brand of disease prevention also happens to be a growing national trend: spices. This is made easier by the fact that exotic organic spices can be summoned to your doorstep in greater varieties than ever before.

Research has shown that cultures which include a high consumption of chili peppers experience significantly lower cancer death rates for both men and women.  Scientific studies have found that chili’s disease fighting properties come from the compound capsaicin possessed within the chili.

Almost all peppers have varying amounts this great stuff, and the hotter the pepper the more capsaicin it has.  For example, Jalapeños, Thai chilis and New Mexican Hatch green and red chilis have a fair amount of capsaicin while peppers like Habaneros, Florida’s Datil peppers and scotch bonnets contain the most. Sorry folks, bell peppers have none.  Cayenne however, while on the lower end of the spectrum, can still be incredibly beneficial for cold & flu and disease prevention; consumption can detoxify the colon, possibly fight cancer, and might even reduce the possibility of a heart attack or stroke.

Chili peppers (peppers with capsaicin) have proven to be the most potent anti-inflammatory of any vegetable and are incredibly well equipped to strengthen the immune system. They are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and have antimicrobial properties which kill pathogens. Capsaicin also protects the body’s cells from damaging free radicals.

One might say “What’s not to love about chilis?” They are a nearly universal delight, perfect for Indian, Mexican, Caribbean, Asian, and American cuisine alike.  The additional not-so-shabby byproduct of capsaicin is that as it causes the body to heat up, it also induces the brain to release endorphins.  But I understand that we all have a different heat tolerance and too much heat is not fun! However, increased consumption can increase a person’s tolerance for heat which is good because the more heat, the more antioxidants one consumes.

At this point I am still a mild or medium salsa girl myself, but my best friend always chooses hot.  It can be hard to judge the heat coming off different chilis, so check out this heat scale to see what heat might be a good one for you to start with!




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