Fruits of the Capsicum pepper plant are well known for their hot flavor. They are called chili peppers (Capsicum annuum). The Capsicum plant genus is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family. This is a family of flowering plants ranging from annual and perennial herbs to vines, lianas, epiphytes, shrubs, and trees. This family also includes many agricultural crops, medicinal plants, spices, weeds, and ornamentals.
There are so many different types of chili peppers and they include bell pepper, poblano pepper, anaheim pepper, serrano pepper, habanero pepper, cayenne pepper, rocoto pepper, Piri Piri, mirasol chili, tabasco pepper, jalapeno pepper, cherry pepper, chilaca, banana pepper, piquillo, shishito, basque fryer, scotch bonnet, Padron pepper, and ghost pepper.
Chili peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Some people dry them, grind them into powder and use them as a spice, and others cut the fresh ones into small pieces and mix with salads, or make them part of a healthy smoothy drink.
Chili peppers are rich in many different types of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K1, potassium, copper, and vitamin A. You eat chili peppers in small amounts, therefore, their contribution to your daily vitamins and minerals intake is very low.
The main bioactive plant compounds in chili peppers are capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, capsaicin, sinapic acid, and ferulic acid. Capsaicin is responsible for the characteristic hot flavor and health benefits of chili peppers. Its chemical name is 8-methyl-N-Vanillyl-6-nonenamide.
(1) Chili peppers can relieve pain:
Pain is a highly unpleasant physical suffering or distress caused by injury, illness, or something that hurts your body. Capsaicin, the substance that gives chili pepper its hot taste, is used as an ingredient in many over-the-counter pain-relief medicines including creams, gels, lotions, patches, and sticks. It is thought to relieve pain by depleting local stores of chemical pain messengers including substance P.
Mauro Bortolotti, Gianni Coccia, and Gabriele Grossi, 2002, examined the effect of treating functional dyspepsia patients with capsaicin, the chemical compound abundant in chili peppers that gives them their burning taste. Functional dyspepsia, commonly called indigestion or heartburn, is a condition that occurs when your upper digestive tract is upset and has pain and discomfort.
They found out that chili peppers worsened the functional dyspepsia during the first few days of treatment but improved the condition over time.
Jutaghokiat S and Gonlachanvit S, 2009, investigated the therapeutic effects of chronic chili pepper ingestion on gastroesophageal reflux symptoms in non-erosive reflux disease patients. They found out that eating chili peppers regularly significantly lowered symptoms such as heartburn, and food regurgitation by the end of the second week and persisted up to the end of treatment. They concluded that regular chili pepper intake improves heartburn and food regurgitation symptoms in non-erosive reflux disease patients compared to a placebo.
(2) Chili peppers can make you lose weight:
Obesity and being overweight increase your risk of many chronic medical conditions including heart disease, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers. People worldwide are busy looking for ways to lose weight fast without spending money and time in the gym. Some do not even like the idea of exercising to lose weight because it is hard work. That is why weight loss is a big business these days. If you are not doing something about losing your weight and keeping your body slim and healthy, you are considered to be unfashionable, unsociable, and outcast.
Regular consumption of chili peppers can make you lose weight. Chili peppers reduce appetite and increase fat burning. However, if you really want to lose weight you should combine chili pepper consumption with other healthy lifestyle strategies including exercising regularly, staying away from high carb foods and drinks, considering sugar intake as an enemy, and eating more fruits and vegetables.
S Whiting and colleagues, 2014, conducted a meta-analysis investigation of the potential effects of capsaicinoids, such as capsaicin, on the energy intake in order to find out if chili pepper intake can help to support weight management. They found out that capsaicinoids contribute to health management by reducing energy intake and can be used as long-term, natural weight loss aids. However, there is need for further investigations on this topic especially long-term randomized trials.
Mary-Jon Ludy and colleagues, 2012, conducted a critical review and meta-analysis of studies in humans about the effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance. They found out that most studies indicated that capsaicin and capsiate increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation. They also found out that capsaicin and capsiate suppress appetite. The researchers concluded that eating chili peppers regularly may help you manage your weight properly.
Mary-Jon Ludy and Richard D. Mattes, 2011, investigated the effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. They found out that regular intake of red pepper increased energy expenditure and reduced appetite.
M Yoshioka and colleagues, 1995, investigated the effects of red pepper diet on the energy metabolism in men. They found out that there was an increase in energy expenditure and carbohydrate oxidation immediately after taking a meal with red pepper in it. This is thought to be caused by beta-adrenergic stimulation.
M Yoshioka and colleagues, 1998, investigated the effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. The researchers found out that adding red pepper to meals significantly increased thermogenesis and lipid oxidation. They concluded that the results indicated that red pepper increases diet-induced thermogenesis and lipid oxidation.
M S Westerterp-Plantenga and colleagues, 2005, assessed the relative oral and gastrointestinal contribution to capsaicin-induced satiety and its effect on food intake or macronutrient selection. They found out that in the short-term capsaicin increased the state of being completely satisfied with food and reduced energy and fat intake.
Although the intake of chili peppers has some health benefits, some people do not like them because of the side effects which include a burning sensation when eating them and when pooing, stomach pain, heartburn, and diarrhea. Furthermore, there is need for more thorough investigations on humans to clarify the effects of chili peppers intake on cancer.
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