Similar to cayenne pepper, red chili peppers are available year-round to add flavor, spice, and health to dishes—for those that are brave enough to consume the heat! Not only do these spicy, hot peppers pack a nutritional and flavor-packed punch, but research has shown that they are one of the healthiest spices available!
The component of chili peppers that make them so spicy is capsaicin, which is the same compound that gives chili peppers the ability to relieve pain and inflammation—even that associated with arthritis. The high amount of capsaicin that chili peppers contain makes it a great natural pain relieving food. Studies show that chili peppers are very helpful for pain management for a number of conditions, including diabetic neuropathy, psoriasis, and others.
Capsaicin helps block the production of cancerous cells and also assists in the prevention of blood clots. Chilis lower blood cholesterol levels and help to thin the blood—one of the ways chilis help prevent blood clots. Chili peppers are a great food for clearing congestion and a stuffy nose, and they actually work just as well as, if not better than, over-the-counter prescription drugs for colds, with quicker effect than the drugs. Capsaicin is also responsible for the nose-clearing effect of these peppers.Red chilis also have high levels of carotenes, which are great antioxidants and are important for healthy vision. Furthermore, chili consumption helps to lower the amount of insulin needed to lower blood sugar after a meal, which makes it a great food for diabetics and those with insulin resistance. Chilis have also been said to raise one's metabolic rate, which could help those in need of losing weight. And, though for years spicy food was not advised for those with ulcers, research is now suggesting that chili peppers might actually help to prevent ulcers from happening! Capsaicin helps to protect the stomach lining from the acids that cause ulcers. Getting more chili peppers in your diet may also help prevent aging! That's because they are high in the antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene (which is converted into vitamin A in the body). These antioxidants help to protect the body by neutralizing harmful free radicals; free radicals damage cells and cause aging of the skin and wrinkles. These antioxidants also help to prevent against damage that leads to cancer, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and a weakened immune system. Studies show that those who consume more beta carotene are less likely to get cancer and heart disease.
In addition to all the benefits listed, chili peppers also have potassium, folic acid, iron, and fiber.
Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe
- 2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed, finely diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1 jalapeño chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
- 1 serano chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
- Juice of one lime
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: oregano and or cumin to taste