Inside Scoop: Chilies are known for their intense, punchy, spicy flavor, but they can also provide nutritional benefits. In this guide, we’ll discuss the health benefits of eating chilies. 

 

What are the benefits of eating chilies?

Chilies, also known as chili peppers, are the fruits of the Capsicum plant. Part of the nightshade family, chilies are related to other popular foods, including tomatoes and bell peppers. We often associate chilies with providing a hit of fiery heat when added to recipes, but they can also be beneficial for our health. Here are some of the most significant health benefits of cooking with and eating chilies.

  • Easing symptoms of migraines

Migraines can be debilitating and they often come on with little notice. Migraines are characterized by severe headaches, nausea and symptoms that affect vision. If you are prone to migraines, you may have tried an array of therapies and treatments, but you might not have attempted to ease symptoms with chili before. Chilies can help to alleviate pain caused by migraines. Research suggests that using a nasal spray that contains the chemical, capsaicin, can help to provide relief from migraines. This chemical targets the trigeminal nerve in the brain, numbing the nerve and preventing pain.

  • Prolonging life expectancy

Chilies are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and this is why researchers believe that they prolong life expectancy. A large-scale study revealed that eating at least chili a month for 20 years lowered the risk of death by 13%. One of the key factors influencing life expectancy is the chili’s capacity to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a sign that the body is fighting against an intruder or an illness. It is part of an immune response, which is triggered when the body is under attack. 

  • Clearing congestion

Most of us are familiar with the unpleasant feeling of having a runny or blocked nose. Common symptoms of colds and seasonal illnesses, congestion, itchiness and irritation can take their toll. If you find yourself reaching for a box of tissues every few seconds, try sniffing capsaicin. Although the initial exposure may hit you and take you by surprise, the stinging sensation will be worth your while once the capsaicin takes effect. You should find that you feel a lot less congested and that you can breathe easier. 

  • Speeding up the metabolism and weight loss

If you took a second to search online for weight loss tips, you’d be greeted with hundreds of results. Most articles focus on exercise and eating a healthy, balanced, calorie-controlled diet. If you are changing your diet, it’s a brilliant idea to add chilies to your recipes. Not only will chilies add heat and depth of flavor but they can also help to speed up your metabolism and aid weight loss. Capsaicin accelerates the body’s heating process, and it also stimulates the TRPV1 sensory neuron. This can reduce the risk of fat collecting and regulate appetite to prevent overeating and weight gain. 

  • Alleviating pain associated with arthritis

Arthritis affects more than 50 million people in the US alone. A common cause of chronic pain, arthritis causes pain and swelling in the joints. There are myriad remedies that can be used to ease pain, some of which are more effective than others. Capsaicin is often added to lotions and topical creams to alleviate discomfort

  • Anti-cancer properties

Cancer is one of the biggest killers in the world. Further research is required into the role of chilies in fighting cancer, but some studies suggest that capsaicin can alter the way genes linked to cancer cells behave, reducing the risk of the cells multiplying and growing. 

  • Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

Chilies are bursting with flavor but they’re also packed full of nutrients. Chilies contain vitamins A, B, C, E and K, as well as a host of antioxidants. Chilies contain three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and they are also a good source of copper, iron, manganese and potassium. In addition to capsaicin, chilies contain a number of other plant compounds, many of which are powerful carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants, which boast cancer-fighting properties. Chiles also contain lutein, which is beneficial for eye health and ferulic acid, which helps to lower the risk of chronic diseases and slow the aging process in the skin. 

  • Improving heart health

Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death. While eating chilies alone will not shield you against cardiovascular problems, there is evidence to suggest that chili peppers can lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes by preventing blood clotting. Chilies lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreasing the risk of clot formation. Clotting can be fatal. Clots can prevent oxygen from reaching the heart and the brain, lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Chilies can also facilitate more efficient breakdown of fats within the body, which can also reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when fatty deposits collect inside the arteries. 

  • Helping diabetes sufferers

Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels due to a lack of insulin. Studies show that eating chili peppers can help people with diabetes because it reduces the amount of insulin required to digest food and keep blood glucose levels stable. Lowering insulin production can also ease pressure on the liver. If you have diabetes, always check with your doctor or nutritionist before making changes to your diet. It is crucial to keep a close eye on what you eat to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking. Diabetes requires careful management. 

Summary

We often automatically think about heat and spice when we talk about chilies but they also offer incredible health benefits. Research suggests that chili peppers can provide a wealth of health benefits largely due to their nutrient and antioxidant content. From tackling pain and easing symptoms associated with arthritis, diabetes and migraines to boosting metabolism and lowering the risk of cardiovascular complications, there are myriad reasons to add a little spice to your diet.

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