Hot peppers are a kitchen staple even during ancient Egyptian times. There’s hardly any kitchen at home or in restaurants that don’t use a single type of pepper in their dishes. Because who doesn’t want that hint of heat with a punch of spiciness from time to time? However, peppers are not just great flavor poppers and benders; they also provide our body with dozens of health benefits. And some of which may just surprise you, especially if you’re not a fan of the hot and spicy side.
I wasn’t a hot pepper lover before, as I used to have a low tolerance for hot and spicy flavors. But I guess with age comes maturity, even for the taste buds. Eventually, I started going even for the extreme, not just because I find it delicious but also due to some specific health benefits I wanted from peppers. And I’ll share with you five of the scientifically proven benefits from going into the hot side.
The Hot Pepper Health Benefits
Hot peppers don’t just spice up your food, they also spice up your health. Here are five health benefits we can get from getting some heat into our diet.
1. Hot peppers soothe migraines and headaches.
Migraines and headaches are like a typical mind buster, especially when we’re stressed out, extremely tired, or have little to no sleep. Sometimes they are tolerable, but there are times when you just feel like passing out from the pain. And although you can easily sleep it off or just pop a pain reliever, another effective way to soothe it is by eating hot peppers.
Weird right? However, studies have proven that these fruits can help kiss away the pain. But the more interesting question is how do they do it. Imagine this; you suddenly burnt your tongue by drinking a steaming hot coffee. But after a few minutes, your skin gets burnt from boiling water. When this happens, we tend to feel the pain we suffered from skin scalding than on our tongue.
That’s how our body works. It tends to focus on much worse levels of pain. And eating hot peppers is far more painful than a migraine or a headache. Just think of it as treating pain with pain, but with the latter being more delicious.
2. It helps keep your heart healthy.
Some people would often overdramatise their hot pepper experience by saying that they have a heart attack. However, hot peppers have the opposite effect on our cardiovascular system. And the compound behind a pepper’s heat, capsaicin, is the main hero.
Researchers notice that countries and cultures whose diet involves a continuous intake of hot peppers show the lowest incidents of heart-related problems. That’s because capsaicin helps in regulating our cholesterol levels and lowers our blood pressure. What’s more, it also gives a hand in controlling our blood sugar levels and keeping it regular, avoiding the risk of diabetes.
3. It vamps up metabolism leading to weight loss.
One of the most popular health benefits we can derive from consuming hot peppers is their fantastic ability to increase our metabolism. And we all know that having high metabolism means a faster process of losing weight. This is why many people who go crazy in their weight loss journey would often turn to hot and spicy foods. And I’m one of them.
Take South Korea as an example of this mind-blowing effect on our fats. Growing up, all South Koreans always have spicy kimchi side dishes in their every meal. What’s more, the country loves super hot and spicy dishes and even snacks, from noodles to soups. And their love for capsaicin is the reason why South Korea is one of the countries in the world that have the lowest obesity index. No wonder their Korean Pop idols are so skinny, right?
But, despite the dozens of studies proving the effects of peppers on our metabolism, one shouldn’t solely rely on it to lose weight. Experts say that adding hot peppers to your diet, in the long run, would be a perfect aid to weight loss. So don’t even think about devouring tubs of hot peppers in one go and expect that you’d lose a few pounds the next day.
4. Hot peppers neutralizes fungal infections and colds.
Have you ever experienced that moment when you suddenly bite into a hot pepper, and your nose becomes runny because of the intense heat? Well, that’s a good thing. You see, capsaicin is also a great decongestant, especially when you have colds and a runny nose. The punch of heat from the compound acts as an irritant, which in turn activates the loosening and secretion of your mucus.
Furthermore, because of the intense heat that peppers contain, farmers would often make organic pesticides using these fruits. But did you know that it doesn’t just keep and kill insects but also harmful fungi and bacteria causing diseases? It looks like these microscopic organisms can’t stomach a severe lash of heat from hot peppers.
5. Hot peppers have anti-inflammatory properties.
I know what you’re thinking after reading the subheading. How could something so hot work as an anti-inflammatory? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Well, hot peppers are just another case of looks that could be deceiving. The capsaicin compound in these fruits is responsible for hampering the effects of a particular substance P. This neuropeptide substance is the culprit behind our body’s inflammatory process and responses. Medical experts even conducted research that places capsaicin as a potential cure to arthritis and psoriasis with this discovery.
Now, you believe me that there’s more to peppers than meets the eye? They are not super hot for no reason. Hot peppers have just too many uses and perhaps several undiscovered ones for you to ignore their existence simply. But even though they can be intolerable at first, peppers are just the kind of food you need to get used to overtime before you love them. I mean, that’s what I did. So what are you waiting for? Go and try adding some heat to your daily diet and reap the benefits in the long run.
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