What is capsaicin? It is an alkaloid found in hot peppers, including cayenne, jalapeno, and habanero peppers. The best word to describe this phytochemical is intense. It is the reason that peppers are hot, spicy, and sometimes unbearable, but it also provides many benefits for health and well-being.
Have you ever started sweating after eating spicy food? Ever felt the burn on your skin from handling raw habaneros? While these may seem like inconvenient side effects, they are actually a taste of the many capsaicin benefits. Learn why this plant compound makes a remarkable addition to a healthy diet.
Reducing Pain and Inflammation
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of capsaicin is it’s ability to reduce the pain threshold. Applied topically, it does initially stimulate the sensation, but then the pain signals to the body diminish, effectively reducing pain. This is of course great news for people who suffer from arthritis and related disorders. It has also been used for cancer patients, providing relief from simple mouth sores from radiation therapy and even helping with post-surgical pain. Capsaicin has been approved by the FDA as a topical treatment for pain for over twenty years.
Closely related to suffering from pain is inflammation. Capsaicin reduces inflammation by inhibiting a neuropeptide that is involved with the natural process of inflammation.
Eat Chili Peppers for Weight Loss
Including capsaicin in your diet can also help you lose weight. Chili peppers are no substitute for a balanced diet and moderate exercise, but sprinkling a little cayenne powder into your pasta sauce or adding a diced jalapeno to your vegetable stir-fry will crank up the heat and the calorie-burning.
A powerful stimulant, this phytochemical is also useful for congestion. Consuming capsaicin will increase the secretion of mucous from lungs and the nasal passageway. For fast relief, try drinking a tea made from cayenne powder next time you have a cold or sinus infection.
Infuse a cup of boiling water with one teaspoon of the powder. Let steep for ten minutes. Take a tablespoon of this solution and stir into a cup of hot water. Drink and feel better.
Yes, the capsaicin in chili peppers benefit the heart as well. It strengthens the heart, regulates blood flow, and lowers blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. Consider this compound a general heart tonic. It is also important to note that people from countries that eat plenty of hot peppers have significantly lower rates of heart attack and stroke.
There are plenty of reasons to make sure you are including hot peppers in your diet with all of the health benefits of capsaicin. What if you don’t like spicy food? You could always supplement with cayenne, but with so many different chili peppers to choose from, and a wide range of hotness levels, there might be a capsaicin-rich pepper that you can enjoy in your diet.
Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).
World’s Healthiest Foods https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=140
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