The Healthy Burn of Chili Peppers
That exhilarating (or excruciating) hot sensation you get when eating chili peppers? That’s due to their capsaicin content – and it’s definitely a “healthy burn”.
Chilies are a popular addition to Mexican, Indian, and other international cuisines. The most common reason they’re added to foods is the sensation of heat they impart.
This sensation is due to irritation to the tongue and lining of the mouth, which can range from a pleasant sensation of warmth to extreme pain, as anyone who has doused their food with an unknown hot sauce can attest to.
Peppers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, from the innocuous bell pepper to the notorious jalapeño. Jalapeños, while indeed hot, are not the hottest.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, that title has been bestowed on a chili known as the Carolina Reaper.
Chile peppers are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and fiber, however, their most notable active ingredient is capsaicin, the healthy compound that’s responsible for their heat.
Capsaicin Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Capsaicin has been the subject of many scientific inquiries over the past decade or so, and for good reason. In cultured human pancreatic carcinoma cells, scientists reported the anticancer effect of capsaicin.1
In mice that received implanted human prostate cancer tumors, capsaicin resulted in a decrease in the tumor size and weight.
Capsaicin Aids Weight Loss
Chilies ability to aid in weight loss has been the focus of recent research.
An article published in 2010 revealed an 8% decrease in body weight among rats on a high-fat diet given capsaicin.3 In the study, capsaicin increased the breakdown of fat and increased metabolism.
Capsaicin Alleviates Pain
Capsaicin is also showing promise as a topical agent for arthritis or other pain. Applied directly to the skin, the compound has the ability to be absorbed for rapid relief.
A study published in 2013 showed that capsaicin improved sleep, fatigue, depression, and quality of life in people with post-herpetic neuralgia or HIV-neuropathy.4
A Word of Caution!
Be careful not to use around your eyes or to touch your eyes after applying! Capsaicin and chili peppers can be an exteme irritant.