3 reasons to introduce chilli peppers into your diet
Chili peppers (Capsicum genus) are fruits that originated from the Americas and are now grown all over the world. They are widely used to spice up dishes, more so in some countries. In addition to their tasty properties they have a positive impact on our health.
1. Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
Capsaicinoids are compounds found in hot chili peppers (cayennes, jalapenos, serranos and habaneros). They display the interesting ability to decrease the level of cholesterol in blood by breaking down cholesterol as well as reduce the formation of atherosclerotic plaques (thickening of artery walls due to cholesterol accumulation and subsequent inflammation) by preventing the accumulation of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries The increasing incidence of cardiovascular disease due to high level of cholesterol is of increasing concern, and the ability of chili peppers to help reduce cholesterol levels could potentially be most helpful. (link to our heart article)
Capsaicin in the chilli peppers has been reported in several studies to have the characteristic to reduce the feeling of hunger (increase satiety). Obesity is a growing concern in developed and developing countries and addition of capsaicin or chili peppers to the diet could potentially represent an important tool to prevent obesity and help to improve the efficiency of weight loss programs.
Capsaicin from chili peppers has been the most studied molecule extracted from these plants. One of its most interesting abilities is pain relief. This molecule targets a protein known as TRPV1 present on pain and heat-sensing neurons leading to a reduction in pain sensitivity. This property could be used in the treatment of neuropathic pains (cause by diseases that damage the nerves, including diabetes, resulting in pain hypersensitivity and chronic pain). Capsaicin also has anti-inflammatory potential and this could represent an alternative to current analgesics commonly used with lower side effects. Or may allow one to reduce the strength of the pain tablets they are taking.
Capsaicinoids but Not Their Analogue Capsinoids Lower Plasma Cholesterol and Possess Beneficial Vascular Activity. Huang W, Cheang WS, Wang X, Lei L, Liu Y, Ma KY, Zheng F, Huang Y, Chen ZY. J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Aug 11. [Epub ahead of print]
High-Dose Capsaicin for the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain: What We Know and What We Need to Know. Uçeyler N, Sommer C. Pain Ther. 2014 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]
Comparative anti-inflammatory properties of Capsaicin and ethyl-aAcetate extract of Capsicum frutescens linn [Solanaceae] in rats. Jolayemi AT, Ojewole JA. Afr Health Sci. 2013 Jun;13(2):357-61. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v13i2.23.
Mechanisms and clinical uses of capsaicin. Sharma SK, Vij AS, Sharma M. Eur J Pharmacol. 2013 Nov 15;720(1-3):55-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2013.10.053. Epub 2013 Nov 5.
Capsaicin increases sensation of fullness in energy balance, and decreases desire to eat after dinner in negative energy balance. Janssens PL, Hursel R, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Appetite. 2014 Jun;77:44-9. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.02.018. Epub 2014 Mar 12.