Chili not only provides a sensation of pleasure but also health benefits that you probably didn’t know about. Few foods contain the great diversity of protective compounds that chili has. We tell you what they contain and how they benefit you.
It has been the main ingredient in Mexican foods. On average, each Mexican eats about 16 kilograms of chili a year, according to data from the Center for Food Research and Development (CIAD).
Different studies reveal that chili has analgesic, anti-cancer, anti-ulcer, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, provitamin A, and immune-system strengthening properties.
Beneficial compounds for health
Chili has a combination of health-protective compounds that no other food has: capsaicinoids (eleven different), Capsinoids, and the carotenoids capsanthin and capsorubin.
Capsaicinoids: cause the itchy sensation that characterizes chili. Capsaicin is the most studied.
Capsinoids: they do not generate itchiness and they are abundant in non-spicy chilies.
Seventy different species of carotenoids, chlorophyll, and chlorophyll derivatives have been identified in chile, says José de Jesús Ornelas Paz, CIAD researcher.
Chili also contains vitamin C and is rich in phenolic compounds (protective effect against cardiovascular diseases and its antioxidant properties), vitamin E, and other vitamins.
Take care of your heart
Chili helps prevent heart problems like heart attacks and strokes caused by high blood pressure. Capsaicin has beneficial effects on blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
A study found that capsaicinoids block the action of a gene that causes arteries to contract and lowers cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol build-up in the body.
Decreased body fat
Chili peppers stimulate metabolism and are low in calories. Capsaicin and other capsaicinoids can increase metabolism by 4–5% per day, increase fat burning, and reduce appetite.
Feeling of pleasure
Consuming spicy stimulates the release of endorphins, substances of the brain that produce a sensation of pleasure.
Chili helps increase serotonin levels in the brain, called a happy chemical because it contributes to well-being and happiness. The hotter the chili the better the feeling of well-being it causes.
Chili peppers and peppers are rich in quercetin, synaptic acid, ferulic acid, and other antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Chili peppers contain vitamin C, carotenoids and are rich in phenolic compounds. Antioxidants interact with and neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing harm. The pepper for example has antioxidants such as: capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, quercetin, and luteolin.
The capsaicin fights cancer by stopping the growth and division of cancer cells. It slows the formation of new blood vessels around cancerous tumors and prevents the spread of cancer to other areas of the body.
Helps stabilize blood sugar
Eating chili peppers 5 grams of chili before a carbohydrate meal helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent large spikes that occur after meals.
Helps fight infection
The compounds found in hot peppers are especially powerful in slowing the growth of common food-borne bacteria and yeast, studies say.
Protects from stomach ulcers
The consumption of chili does not cause gastrointestinal diseases, as has long been believed as a consequence of studies carried out decades ago in people who already suffered from gastrointestinal conditions, such as ulcers.
A research conducted in 2019 indicates that capsaicin chili does not aggravate the symptoms or severity of inflammatory diseases of the intestine. Rather, it can reduce intestinal inflammation and protect the stomach from developing ulcers.
The discomforts of consuming chili are common in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Recommendation: A distinction should be made between chili peppers and chili sauces that contain added irritating and toxic compounds, such as artificial preservatives and flavorings, acids, and flavor enhancers, which can cause gastrointestinal conditions.