Spicy foods that make your nose leak and your eyes tear up could either be a culinary boon or a bane. For those who are grateful for hot, tastebud-tingling foods, there’s good news. It turns out that the burn may help you enjoy a long, healthy life.
And what’s the magic ingredient to which we owe our gratitude? Capsaicin.
Known as the main spice component in chili peppers, a popular addition to all things spicy, it is capsaicin that not only makes us breathe fire but also makes us healthier in a variety of ways. Here’s how.
1. It Fights Inflammation
Capsaicin can neutralize certain neuropeptides that trigger inflammation to hamper our body’s natural functions.1
This explains why researchers are studying capsaicin so extensively, to see if its anti-inflammatory properties can be tapped into and used as a potential treatment for arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.
2. It Fights Congestion
Capsaicin is well recognized for its antibacterial properties that fight chronic sinus infections (also known as sinusitis). Plus, because of it’s heating effect on the body, it helps stimulate secretions that can clear out thickened mucus from the nasal passages. This property of capsaicin, along with its anti-inflammation properties not only helps fight off congestion-related illnesses but also helps bring down many of the painfully annoying symptoms.
3. It Promotes Digestive Health And Fights Bloat
By naturally stimulating the flow of digestive enzymes through your stomach, capsaicin helps to reduce the bloating and gas. Not only does this ensure that undigested food doesn’t stay lodged in the intestines for long, but also kills the bacteria that feed off this undigested food to release the gas that can cause or aggravate your feeling of bloat.
4. It Protects The Heart
According to research, a good dose of capsaicin-rich foods can keep your heart healthy and strong in the long run. Previous studies have suggested that capsaicin can help bring down blood pressure, lower high cholesterol levels and prevent the formation of blood clots.2
In addition to that, recent studies have found that capsaicin has a blocking effect on a certain gene that makes arteries contract, which could potentially block blood flow and cause heart attacks or strokes.3
5. It Acts As An Anti-Obesity Agent
According to research, capsaicin helps activate a certain type of protein called TRPV1 that happens to be a target for anti-obesity drugs as well. It is this protein that is responsible for regulating body weight, boosting metabolic activity and cardiovascular function, and controlling glucose levels and weight gain-related lipids.
Thus, capsaicin helps provide a natural remedy for those struggling with obesity without any harmful side effects.4
6. It May Help Fight Prostate Cancer
Animal studies have found that capsaicin caused almost 80 percent of prostate cancer cells to die in mice. More animal studies have proved that capsaicin caused prostate tumors to reduce to about one-fifth the size as compared to that of tumors in mice who weren’t treated with the substance.5
Although these studies were all carried out on mice, the results are still promising as humans and rats share the same genetic makeup. Researchers thus continue to examine the effects of capsaicin pills to see if they can serve to prevent the return of prostate cancer.
|↑1||Srinivasan, Krishnapura. “Biological activities of red pepper (Capsicum annuum) and its pungent principle capsaicin: a review.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 56, no. 9 (2016): 1488-1500.|
|↑2||Huang, Weihuan, Wai San Cheang, Xiaobo Wang, Lin Lei, Yuwei Liu, Ka Ying Ma, Fangrui Zheng, Yu Huang, and Zhen-Yu Chen. “Capsaicinoids but not their analogue capsinoids lower plasma cholesterol and possess beneficial vascular activity.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 62, no. 33 (2014): 8415-8420.|
|↑3||Hot pepper compound could help hearts. American Chemical Society.|
|↑4||Leung, Felix W. “Capsaicin as an anti-obesity drug.” In Capsaicin as a Therapeutic Molecule, pp. 171-179. Springer Basel, 2014.|
|↑5||Díaz-Laviada, Inés. “Effect of capsaicin on prostate cancer cells.” Future Oncology 6, no. 10 (2010): 1545-1550.|