In addition to adding some fire to our food, chilis are one of nature’s superfoods and have many benefits to our bodies.
Chilis contain a substance called capsaicin, which gives peppers their characteristic pungency, producing mild to intense spice when eaten. Capsaicin is being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fibre disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy.
Natural pain relief
Topical capsaicin is now a recognised treatment option for osteoarthritis pain. Several review studies of pain management for diabetic neuropathy have listed the benefits of topical capsaicin to alleviate disabling pain associated with this condition.
Red chilis have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Cultures where hot chilis are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
Capsaicin not only reduces pain, but its peppery heat also stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed up nose or congested lungs.
The bright colour of red chilis signal its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Just two teaspoons of red chilli peppers provide about six percent of the daily value for vitamin C coupled with more than 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin A. Often called the anti-infection vitamin, vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes, which line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract and serve as the body’s first line of defence against invading pathogens.
All that heat you feel after eating hot chili peppers takes energy—and calories to produce. Even sweet red peppers have been found to contain substances that significantly increase thermogenesis (heat production) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after they are eaten.
Vitamins and Minerals
Chili peppers are rich in various vitamins and minerals
- Vitamin C – Chili peppers are very high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, important for wound healing and immune function.
- Vitamin B6 – A family of B-vitamins, some of which have important functions in energy metabolism.
- Vitamin K1 – Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting and healthy bones and kidneys.
- Potassium – An essential dietary mineral that serves a variety of functions in the body. Adequate intake of potassium may reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Copper – Often lacking in the Western diet, copper is an essential antioxidant trace element, important for strong bones and healthy neurons.
- Vitamin A – Red chilis are high in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
main bioactive plant compounds in chilis
- Capsanthin – Contains powerful antioxidant properties may act against cancer
- Lutein – High consumption of lutein has been linked with improved eye health.
- Capsaicin – One of the most studied plant compounds in chili peppers. It is responsible for their hot flavour and many of their health effects.
- Sinapic acid – An antioxidant that has a variety of potential health benefits.
- Ferulic acid – An antioxidant that may help protect against various chronic diseases.