Health Benefits of Chili pepper, dried

health-benefits-of-chili-pepper-dried

We have placed nightshade vegetables (such as chili pepper) on our “10 Most Controversial WHFoods List.” This list was created to let you know that even though some foods (like chili pepper) can make an outstanding contribution to your meal plan, they are definitely not for everyone. Nightshade vegetables can be difficult to find in high-quality form; can be more commonly associated with adverse reactions than other foods; and can present more challenges to our food supply in terms of sustainability. More details about our 10 Most Controversial WHFoods can be found here.

About Chile Pepper

Like cayenne pepper, red chili peppers are available throughout the year to add zest to flavorful dishes around the world and health to those brave enough to risk their fiery heat.

This is the plant that puts fire on your tongue and maybe even a tear in your eye when you eat spicy Mexican, simmering Szechuan, smoldering Indian, or torrid Thai food. Chili peppers belong to the family of foods bearing the Latin name Capsicum.

Nutrients in
Chili Pepper
2.00 tsp (1.54 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value


 vitamin A8.1%


Calories (5)0%


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Chili pepper, dried provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Chili pepper, dried can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Chili pepper, dried, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Individual Concerns
  • Nutritional Profile
  • References

Health Benefits

Fight Inflammation

Chili peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which gives peppers their characteristic pungence, producing mild to intense spice when eaten. Capsaicin is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes. The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hottest varieties include habanero and Scotch bonnet peppers. Jalapenos are next in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers.

Capsaicin is being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. When animals injected with a substance that causes inflammatory arthritis were fed a diet that contained capsaicin, they had delayed onset of arthritis, and also significantly reduced paw inflammation.

Natural Pain Relief

Topical capsaicin is now a recognized treatment option for osteoarthritis pain. Several review studies of pain management for diabetic neuropathy have listed the benefits of topical capsaicin to alleviate disabling pain associated with this condition.

In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, nearly 200 patients with psoriasis were given topical preparations containing either capsaicin or placebo. Patients who were given capsaicin reported significant improvement based on a severity score which traced symptoms associated with psoriasis. The side effect reported with topical capsaicin cream is a burning sensation at the area of application.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Red chili peppers, such as cayenne, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Cultures where hot pepper is used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

Spicing your meals with chili peppers may also protect the fats in your blood from damage by free radicals – a first step in the development of atherosclerosis. In a randomized, crossover study involving 27 healthy subjects (14 women, 13 men), eating freshly chopped chili was found to increase the resistance of blood fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, to oxidation (free radical injury).

Subjects were randomly divided into 2 groups. For 4 weeks, half the subjects ate a freshly chopped chili blend (30 grams/day, about 1 ounce), consisting of 55% cayenne, while the other half consumed a bland diet (no chili). After 4 weeks, the groups were crossed over for another 4 weeks. During the intervention periods, consumption of other spices such as cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and mustard was restricted. Blood samples were obtained at the beginning of the study and after each dietary period.

After eating the chili-containing diet, the rate of oxidation (free radical damage to cholesterol and triglycerides) was significantly lower in both men and women than that seen after eating the bland diet.

In addition, after eating the chili-spiced diet, women had a longer lag time before any damage to cholesterol was seen compared to the lag time seen after eating the bland diet.In men, the chili-diet also lowered resting heart rate and increased the amount of blood reaching the heart.

Clear Congestion

Capsaicin not only reduces pain, but its peppery heat also stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed up nose or congested lungs.

Boost Immunity

Chili peppers’ bright red color signals its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. Just two teaspoons of red chili peppers provide about 6% of the daily value for vitamin C coupled with more than 10% of the daily value for vitamin A. Often called the anti-infection vitamin, vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes, which line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract and serve as the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens.

Help Stop the Spread of Prostate Cancer

Red chili peppers’ capsaicin, the compound responsible for their pungent heat, stops the spread of prostate cancer cells through a variety of mechanisms, indicates a study published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Cancer Research . Capsaicin triggers suicide in both primary types of prostate cancer cell lines, those whose growth is stimulated by male hormones and those not affected by them. In addition, capsaicin lessens the expression of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), inhibits the ability of the most potent form of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, to activate PSA, and directly inhibits PSA transcription, causing PSA levels to plummet.

The dose effective for test animals was equivalent to 400 milligrams of capsaicin, three times a week, for a man weighing about 200 pounds. After four weeks of receiving capsaicin, prostate cancer tumor growth and size decreased significantly in the animals.One warning: Excessive intake of hot chilies has been linked to stomach cancer, so don’t go overboard.

Prevent Stomach Ulcers

Chili peppers have a bad–and mistaken–reputation for contributing to stomach ulcers. Not only do they not cause ulcers, they can help prevent them by killing bacteria you may have ingested, while stimulating the cells lining the stomach to secrete protective buffering juices.

Lose Weight

All that heat you feel after eating hot chili peppers takes energy–and calories to produce. Even sweet red peppers have been found to contain substances that significantly increase thermogenesis (heat production) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after they are eaten.

Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Making chili pepper a frequently enjoyed spice in your Healthiest Way of Eating could help reduce your risk of hyperinsulinemia (high blood levels of insulin)—a disorder associated with type 2 diabetes.

In a study published in the July 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Australian researchers show that the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar after a meal is reduced if the meal contains chili pepper. When chili-containing meals are a regular part of the diet, insulin requirements drop even lower.

Plus, chili’s beneficial effects on insulin needs get even better as body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity) increases. In overweight people, not only do chili-containing meals significantly lower the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar levels after a meal, but chili-containing meals also result in a lower ratio of C-peptide/ insulin, an indication that the rate at which the liver is clearing insulin has increased.

The amount of C-peptide in the blood also shows how much insulin is being produced by the pancreas. The pancreas produces proinsulin, which splits into insulin and C-peptide when secreted into the bloodstream. Each molecule of proinsulin breaks into one molecule of C-peptide and one molecule of insulin, so less C-peptide means less insulin has been secreted into the bloodstream.

In this study, which involved 36 subjects aged 22-70 years, the effects of three interventions were evaluated. Subjects were given a bland meal after a bland diet containing no spices, a chili-containing meal after a bland diet, and finally, a chili-containing meal after a chili-containing diet. A palatable chili flavoring, not pure capsaicin (the active component in chili), was used.

Blood sugar rose similarly after all three interventions, but insulin rose the most after the bland meal after a bland diet and the least after the chili-containing meal after a chili-rich diet.

The maximum increases in insulin after the bland diet followed by a chili-containing meal were 15% lower than after the bland meal following a bland diet, and 24% lower after the chili-containing meal after a chili-rich diet compared to the chili-containing meal after the bland diet.

C-peptide blood levels also increased the most after the bland meal after a bland diet and the least after the chili-containing meal after a chili-rich diet, showing the least insulin was secreted after the chili-rich diet and meal.

In addition, the C-peptide/insulin ratio was highest after the chili-containing meal after a chili-rich diet, indicating an increase in the liver’s ability to clear insulin.

Besides capsaicin, chilies contain antioxidants, including vitamin C and carotenoids, which might also help improve insulin regulation.

A little chili pepper can really perk up an omelet, add heat to a black bean/sweet potato soup, or transform an ordinary salad dressing. So, spice up your meals with chili peppers. Your body will need to make less insulin and will use it more effectively.No need to go overboard though. Population studies in India and Mexico suggest that loading up on hot chilies at every meal may be linked to increased risk of stomach cancer.

Description

This is the plant that puts fire on your tongue and maybe even a tear in your eye when you eat spicy Mexican, simmering Szechuan, smoldering Indian, or torrid Thai food. Chili peppers belong to the family of foods bearing the Latin name Capsicum.

There are hundreds of different types of chili peppers that vary in size, shape, color, flavor and “hotness.” This fleshy berry features many seeds inside a potent package that can range from less than one inch to six inches in length, and approximately one-half to one inch in diameter. Chili peppers are usually red or green in color.

Cayenne, habanero, chipotle, jalapeno, anaheim and ancho are just some of the popular varieties available. Ground chili peppers are used to make chili powder, cayenne powder and paprika. Chili peppers are used as a food and seasoning and revered for their medicinal qualities.

History

It’s not surprising that chili peppers can trace their history to Central and South America, regions whose cuisines are renowned for their hot and spicy flavors. Chili peppers have been cultivated in these regions for more than seven thousand years, first as a decorative item and later as a foodstuff and medicine.

It was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that chili peppers were introduced to the rest of the world. Christopher Columbus encountered them on his explorations of the Caribbean Islands and brought them back to Europe. There, they were used as a substitute for black pepper, which was very expensive since it had to be imported from Asia.

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan is credited with introducing chili peppers into Africa and Asia, continents that have since incorporated them into their cuisines and pharmacopeias. Chili peppers are now grown on all continents, however, China, Turkey, Nigeria, Spain and Mexico are among the largest commercial producers.

How to Select and Store

Choose fresh chili peppers that have vivid, deep colors and glossy, firm and taut skins. Their stems should seem hardy and fresh. With the exception of jalapenos, peppers should not have any cracks near the stem end. Avoid those that are wrinkled or have soft areas or black spots.

When purchasing dried chili peppers look for ones that are still vivid in color. If they’ve lost their color, they’ve probably lost their flavor as well. Both fresh and dried chili peppers are available throughout the year in most areas.

Place unwashed fresh peppers in paper bags or wrap in paper towels and store in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator, where they should keep for at least one week. Avoid storing peppers in plastic bags as this may result in moisture accumulation, which will cause them to spoil more quickly.

Fresh peppers can also be hung in the sunlight to dry. Once dried, they can be used to make freshly ground chili powder. Dried peppers and chili powders should be kept in a tightly sealed jar, away from sunlight.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Cooking with Chili Peppers

Be very careful when you are handling and cooking fresh chili peppers. One of the peppers’ most pungent compounds, capsaicin, can cause a severe burning sensation if it touches your skin or lips, or comes in contact with your eyes.

Because of this, some people prefer to wear thin rubber gloves when working with chili peppers. If you choose not to do this, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling them. Additionally, you should wash your knife and cutting board after cutting these peppers.

Capsaicin primarily resides in the seeds and fleshy white inner membranes. If you want to enjoy the pungency of peppers but minimize their heat, you can remove these parts, although capsaicin is responsible for much of chili pepper’s healing properties.

There is a range of “hotness” between pepper varieties and sometimes also within the same varieties. Therefore, each time you cook with them you may need to adjust the amount you use. Before adding chili peppers to a recipe, taste a little piece to determine the spice level, so you will know how much to add.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • The next time you make healthy sautéed vegetables, add some chili peppers to turn up the spice volume.
  • Add chili peppers to your favorite corn bread recipe to give it an extra spark.
  • Add minced chili peppers to yogurt and use as a condiment or dip.
  • Add jalapenos to your favorite tuna salad recipe.
  • If your curry dishes need a little extra zip, try adding some chili peppers.
  • Purée fresh chili peppers together with olive oil, garlic, coriander, peppermint, and caraway. If you would like, add your own favorite herbs and spices to this mixture to make your own version of Harissa, a condiment popular in the some Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Individual Concerns

Capsaicin can irritate or burn your eyes or hands. Chili oil can stick to the skin, so wash hands thoroughly after handling the peppers and be cautious about touching your hands to your eyes. Be aware that pepper dust from grinding dried peppers can irritate throat and eyes. You can protect yourself by wearing a dust mask and goggles.

If you find you can’t take the heat, cool off with a glass of milk. A protein in milk called casein can help douse capsaicin’s fire.

Chili Pepper Belongs to the Nightshade Family

Chili pepper is one of the vegetables in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, which also includes eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers and white potatoes. Anecdotal case histories link improvement in arthritis symptoms with removal of these foods; however, there are no scientific studies to date that confirm this information.

Hot Peppers and Pesticide Residues

Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” hot peppers are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of hot peppers unless they are grown organically.

Nutritional Profile

Red chili peppers are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of iron and potassium.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Chili peppers.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Chili pepper, dried is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Chili Pepper
2.00 tsp
1.54 grams
5.00 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin A 408.36 IU 8.2 29.4 very good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
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