The Benefits of Hot Peppers
by Ward W. Bond, PhD
Some like it hot and your body loves the hot peppers! Don’t avoid them because you can’t take the heat. Spicy foods have numerous health benefits and in this case the hot peppers that millions of people enjoy every day. There are those who avoid spicy foods because of indigestion or heartburn, or because their tongues just can't take the heat. Learn to acquire a taste for peppers from the capsicum family, such as cayenne and chili, and even the sweeter, less-spicy range of colorful bell peppers. All these offer some hot and spicy health benefits.
ANTIOXIDANT POWER: Guess what? Peppers are actually a fruit, not a vegetable and they are power-packed withVitamin C. Facts show bell peppers provide more Vitamin C than any other food. They contain Vitamin A too! Bell peppers contain as much Vitamin A as the darker leafy greens, like kale and spinach. Cayenne peppers, better known as the red hot chili pepper, are bursting with these two antioxidant vitamins. Red bell peppers contain Lutein, an antioxidant that helps to protect your eyes from macular degeneration as well as colon cancer.
HOT PROTECTOR: Peppers from capsicum family are native to the Caribbean and North and South America. These peppers are not only used as spices to add a little life to boring foods, it is now believed the heat from the peppers protects those who eat it from food-borne pathogens and microbes, which thrive in warmer tropical climates. So eating peppers can help protect you from the bad guys, which may explain why peppers are a perfect remedy against the common cold.
PAIN RELIEVER: When applied to tissues (internally or externally), capsaicin causes release of a chemical called Substance P. Hot peppers artificially release Substance P, they trick the nervous system into thinking that an injury has occurred. The result: a sensation of burning pain. When capsaicin is applied regularly to a part of the body, Substance P becomes depleted in that location. This is why individuals who consume a lot of hot peppers gradually build up a tolerance. In the same way that your mouth's pain receptors can get desensitized, nerve receptors in the body can also be desensitized. When applied to the skin, topical capsaicin has been shown to effectively ease symptoms of cluster headaches, shingles, and osteoarthritis.
COLD KILLER: Capsaicin, the healing property of the hot pepper is the same ingredient that gives them their heat and it’s an irritant. When it hits your nose, throat, or lungs, it stimulates secretions and loosens up mucous. So if you get a stuffy nose or your chest becomes congested, don’t reach for an anti-histamine or decongestant. Reach for the Cayenne! Capsule forms are available so you can avoid the heat, but still provide the healing properties the body needs!
MAKES MEN HOT: Got your attention didn’t I? Well, hot peppers are known to provide protection to the prostate gland. Researchers found that when they applied capsaicin to prostate cancer cells, they were able to trigger cell death and slow down tumor growth. Another thing is to use cayenne as a catalyst for other nutrients. The prostate gland can have a poor blood supply and nutrients can have a hard time making their way to the gland, so by using hot peppers or Cayenne capsules you can help improve circulation to the area and improve its overall health.
HEART LOVER: Daily intake of hot peppers are known to decrease blood pressure naturally as well as reduce the risk for heart attacks. Combining Cayenne with the herb Hawthorn could be used as a treatment to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating meals with capsaicin-rich peppers may also help to regulate blood sugar levels and lower the risk of diabetes. And when you lower your diabetes risk, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol, you lower your overall heart health risks. That’s improving your health with one of nature’s most power-packed foods!
Ward W. Bond, PhD
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