Spices and condiments can definitely add a lot of flavor to your dish, but some spices can do a lot more than simply make a dish taste more exciting. An excellent example are chili peppers, which are used in cooking and medicine alike. Apparently, these hot vegetables can do wonders for pain relief, longevity, and even weight loss.
1. Pain Relief
One of the phytochemicals contained in hot peppers, capsaicin, has a unique property of binding to pain receptors in the brain, causing you to feel a burning sensation, but without any adverse effects on the body.Since our brain can process only so many kinds of pain at the same time, it is possible to dull the pain you’re experiencing by eating spicy foods or using medical aids that contain capsaicin. By doing so, you will trick your brain into being less sensitive to pain. Topical patches and creams containing capsaicin, for example, were shown to decrease pain linked to arthritis, joint, and muscle pain, as well as nerve damage linked to diabetes.
2. Weight Loss
Chili peppers are a multitasker when it comes to weight loss management, with several studies showing that it can not only suppress one’s appetite but also increase fat burning in both men and women. And while most of these studies do suggest that the best results were achieved in participants who combined exercise and smart diet choices with chili peppers, they do conclude that a daily intake of hot peppers or a capsaicin supplement can boost one’s metabolism and promote weight loss.
If you eat chili peppers at least once a month, you are more likely to live longer, at least that’s what a large scale study found. More precisely, individuals who ate at least 1 red chili pepper (dry or fresh) a month for 20 years had a 13% lower chance of death compared to people who didn’t.
4. Stomach Ulcers
One of the leading causes of the development of stomach ulcers is alcohol, NSAID pain relievers and a strain of bacteria called H. pylori. Several studies found that, contrary to popular belief, the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of hot peppers, and particularly capsaicin, helped prevent the development of stomach ulcers among people with high counts of H. pylori in their stomachs.
5. Relieve Nasal Congestion
Some people experience what is called non-allergic rhinitis, which is when you have a runny or stuffed-up nose that is not due to a cold or allergy. Oftentimes, people with this condition benefit from capsaicin nasal drops. These drops may cause a burning sensation in your nasal cavity at first, but they may relieve you of nasal congestion for weeks or even months.
6. Antibacterial Properties
People have been using spices, especially pungent ones, like chili, to prevent food from spoiling for thousands of years. This traditional use is certainly supported by science, with chili, in particular, having been proven to possess antibacterial and antifungal properties. For one, it was found that chili extract can even prevent cholera bacteria from producing toxins. Some scientists even suggest using chili extract as a natural preservative. Apart from preventing food poisoning, however, some studies even used chili extract to treat streptococcus-induced throat infections, chlamydia, and tooth decay.
7. Regulate Blood Pressure
Chili peppers can help normalize cholesterol levels, at least in animal models. Apart from that, one study suggested that eating 5 g of chilies before a meal high in carbohydrates can help prevent sugar spikes, which means that chili peppers can be beneficial for your heart health and diabetes prevention.