Chili Peppers, The Superfood
Anyone who loves their food to have a little kick knows that chili peppers are an important staple in your daily diet. They bring a lot of flavor, a little (or a lot) of spice and add a pop of color to your dish. But did you know that chili peppers are also considered a superfood for the health benefits that they provide to your diet?
The History of Chili Peppers
Chili peppers originate from the Americas, but are now cultivated all over the world. They include bell peppers, chili peppers, jalapenos, tabasco and Thai peppers, habanero, rocoto peppers and more.
Antioxidants… With A Kick!
Capsaicin, found in chili peppers, is what gives them their kick. But it’s also an antioxidant that promotes health and gives your metabolism a boost! While it has no dietary content (calories or additional nutrients), it has been shown to possibly aid in weight loss by boosting your metabolism. Some studies have also shown that it may help fight against cancer cells.
Chili peppers have 108% of the daily Vitamin C requirements, per tablespoon. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your body resist infectious agents and helps to eliminate cancer-causing radicals in your body. It also helps strengthen the integrity of your vessels, bones, organs and skin. Chili peppers are a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6 and iron. In fact, the Vitamin C in chili peppers will help you better absorb the iron it contains!
Decrease Blood Pressure
Every tablespoon of chili peppers contains 145 milligrams of potassium and very little sodium. This means that chili peppers can contribute to the prevention or reduction of hypertension by ensuring proper blood flow.
Some studies have shown the capsaicin in chili peppers improves cholesterol by making blood vessels more resistant to oxidized LDL. It may also help by breaking cholesterol down and removing it from your body.
Capsaicin can be used topically to help reduce pain by reducing inflammation. Though it is not a cure, capsaicin is the active ingredient in several topical medications for arthritis, muscle strain/sprains and shingles pain. The addition of chili peppers in your diet may also help with cluster headaches and neuropathy pain.
By introducing chili peppers into your meals as a part of a plant-rich diet, or eating more of them if you are already on a spice kick, you won’t just be adding a bit of heat. You’ll also be adding a substantial amount of nutrients to help your overall health.
Interested in starting to integrate chili peppers into your meal plan? Try one of the recipes below! Both recipes are clickable and will lead to a downloadable PDF. (Provided by Morrison Healthcare.) If you are interested in talking with a registered dietitian about your health needs and come up with a plan customized for you, talk with your primary care provider today!