Quick Recipes and Easy

Chile Peppers – More Than Just Hot and Spicy

When they cut into a pepper of any type, most cooks will naturally discard the seeds and white ribs or veins inside of the pepper without giving it much thought. While the veins are not very tasty for our palates, concentrated within them is a substance called capsaicin, which not only provides the pepper with its signature heat, but also provides a hearty dose of health benefits.

For example, capsaicin is loaded with vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and bioflavinoids (which are antioxidants that serve to protect your body against infection, help you to properly absorb vitamin C, and maintain the strength of your capillaries). Capsaicin is low in stout, calories and cholesterol, and aids in digestion. If that’s not enough, capsaicin has also shown to increase your metabolic rate, which means your body is burning more calories. A study recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition validated this by showing that capsaicin added to the breakfast and lunch foods of test subjects resulted in their eating less at these meals. Additionally, the results showed that the subject’s appetites were suppressed for up to several hours after ingesting the capsaicin, and that the number of calories they burned, particularly after meals high in stout, was higher than those subjects who did not receive any capsaicin.

Capsaicin has also been in use for many years as a treatment for inflamed muscle and non-rheumatoid arthritis pain, post-operative pain, and for pains resulting from burns and other medical conditions. Most commonly available as a cream or ointment, the capsaicin is applied directly to sore areas. Chemically speaking, when applied, the protein ion receptors in our body bind with the capsaicin in the cream, which allows calcium and sodium ions to react with the sensory nerve cells and inhibit the transmission of pain signals through these receptors. Further to this, capsaicin creams have also been shown to counter the production of the neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting pain signals in the joints. It is able to do this by stimulating the brain to continuously release this transmitter in response to the heat from the capsaicin cream. As a result of this increased output, the body soon depletes its reserve and releases less and less of the transmitter which leads to less response from the nerve endings and improved pain relief. Capsaicin has also been shown effective at controlling the pain and discomfort associated with diabetes mellitus, itching associated with dialysis, and when used in a candy form, the discomfort and pain of lesions inside the mouths of cancer patients.

Besides controlling pain, capsaicin cream has been shown to be an effective treatment for the dermatitis and pruritis caused by skin rashes and irritations such as psoriasis, and poison ivy/oak/sumac. While capsaicin itself can be a skin irritant and in its purest forms even burn the skin, when used cautiously under the advice and guidance of a physician, capsaicin quickly dries up irritated psoriasis patches and effectively relieves the itching and stinging from poison ivy by neutralizing the oils from these plants.

Consuming chile peppers has been shown to stimulate and increase circulation of blood throughout the body, from the internal organs to your skins surface, which helps to lower blood pressure. Capsaicin also helps to strengthen blood vessel walls by increasing their elasticity, better allowing the vessels to adjust to regular changes in blood pressure. Additionally, when you sweat while eating chiles, you lose fluids, which will reduce your blood volume temporarily, and thus lower your blood pressure.

Speaking of blood, eating peppers has also shown to decrease the number of free radicals floating around in our systems, which is quite vital considering free radicals can do you a lot of harm. Free radicals are a natural part of the production of chemicals by the mitochondria in your cells. But, if your body fails to combat them effectively, it is believed they can directly influence cell growth and development, cell survival and are likely to increase the risk of atherosclerosis, cancer, premature aging and several other conditions, including inflammatory disease. They are constantly attacking body proteins, carbohydrates, fats and DNA, causing potentially serious hurt unless kept in check, so by increasing the amount of peppers in your diet, you can help to strengthen your system against these radicals.

Chile peppers are also quite effective at relieving the pain caused by headaches. Numerous research studies are currently underway to examine the effects of capsaicin on migraines, but there is certain promise in their results. Research has shown that pepper powder snorted directly in the nostrils does appear to provide some migraine suffers with relief. This stems from our current knowledge that capsaicin cream will relieve the pain and symptoms of cluster headaches when applied directly inside the nostril. When taken directly into the nostrils, capsaicin deactivates the nerve release fibres and desensitizes the nasal nerves, which relieves these headaches, as well as those caused by sinusitis, tension, and allergies.

Next time the flu or cold bug hits home, eating a spicy dish made with chili peppers can help to fight the discomfort by promoting sweating as well as opening clogged nasal and sinus passages. Additionally, chiles serve as an expectorant to help soothe bronchial spasms and loosen mucous secretions that accompany a dry cough. If you have a sore throat, an ancient remedy that really works is a simple mix of a tablespoon of bourbon, a tablespoon of water, and a teaspoon of cayenne. Sprayed on the back of the throat, you can expect relief for several hours.

As you have just learned, chile peppers and especially capsaicin, serve a purpose that is far greater than just as a spicy flavoring for foods. Eaten regularly as part of a healthy diet, chile peppers are guaranteed by Mother Nature to provide your body with a dose of health benefits. Oh, and the next time you are rubbing cream on your tired, aching muscles, thank the chile pepper.

Joe Johnson is a proud Texan and founding partner and chief pit-master with carolinesrub.com Caroline’s Rub, where he is in charge of product promotion and development for their line of gourmet dry rubs, smoked salt, and Texas chili seasoning.

Tags: recipes snacks, low stout recipes, everyday food recipes, gourmet, food what, food people, food, high blood pressure, Green Tea, Health Benefits

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