Some say that “variety is the spice of life.” We may want to change that to “a variety of spice IS life.”
Spice in this instance comes from chile peppers from all around the world that we use as sauces, seasonings, in soups, main dishes, tacos, and more. Those spices can be so hot that we are wiping sweat from our brows even in the dead of winter. What you may not know is that eating a variety of spices and spicy food, you may be improving various aspects of your life.
For instance, did you know that chipotle peppers (which are smoked jalepenos) contain the phytonutrients known as lutein and zeaxanthin which help to reduce the chance of developing age related macular degeneration and cataracts? Or that putting a dash of Tabasco or some other version of a hot sauce on any dish from your morning omelet to your evening hamburger helps your body activate “brown fat” that burns calories?
Chile peppers have varying quantities of certain chemicals, the most common known as capsaicin which is responsible for a peppers heat or spice. Eating capsaicin triggers the body to produce endorphins. Endorphins block the pain caused by the heat of the chile.
I lived many years in New Mexico and anyone who spend any time living there agrees with me, “I’m addicted to chile.” Everywhere you go, green chile is a topping of choice from breakfast burritos to hamburgers to pizza. Military families speak of the frequency of care packages from home that contain not chocolate chip cookies but packets of chile for their son or daughter to spice up their meals in the field.
The truth is that chiles are a healthy addition to your diet. Hot sauces can help to open up sinuses while you’re down with a cold or flu. Sore muscles respond to capsaicin both internally and externally, so you can get relieve not just by eating peppers, but by using soothing balms that contain a little bit of the heat.
Capsaicin also helps to lower bad cholesterol or LDL. It has even been shown to stop the activation of a gene that causes your arteries to contract, a behavior that can lead to heart attack.
Everyone agrees that vitamin C is an essential part of anyone’s diet. But did you know that you can go beyond that orange and have some spicy jalepeno peppers on your salad and get over half of your daily requirement of vitamin C?
Chiles have been shown to provide relief for allergy sufferers, for arthritis pain, depression, cancer, and even improve digestion. If you’ve been avoiding eating spicy food for any reason, you might wish to reconsider. Based on the health benefits, chiles might be considered the next superfood.
photo credit: Mark Seton via photopin cc