What are the health benefits of chilli pepper?


Chilli pepper is used in many cuisines to give a hot yet amazing taste. Besides, the great taste, chilli pepper has many health benefits linked to the presence of many vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in chilli pepper. 

In this article, we are going to look at the health benefits of chilli pepper, side effects and if chilli pepper is any different from cayenne pepper. 

To begin with; 

What is chilli pepper?

Chilli pepper is a hot flavour fruit got from capsicum pepper plant and a member of the nightshade family. Chilli pepper comes in many varieties with the popular ones being cayenne, red chilli and jalapeño.  There are however very many chilli pepper varietiesOpens in a new tab. with different intensity of heat. 

Chilli pepper is a general term for these types of fruits and is related to bell peppers and tomatoes. Chilli peppers are used in many cuisines and the fruits can be used while raw and ripe, dried or in a powdered form.  They give a hot and amazing taste to meals. 

The pungent and hot taste of chilli is linked to capsaicin which is the main bioactive compound found n chilli peppers. Chilli peppers are highly nutritiously packed with vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, Vitamin A and with minerals such as potassium and copper. 

From a tablespoon of chilli peppers which is about 15 grams, there are about 6 calories, o.3 grams of proteins, 1.3 grams of carbs, 0.8 grams of sugar, 0.2 grams of fibre and 0.1 grams of fat. 

Before the invention of refrigerators, chilli pepper was used in preserving food as capsaicin’s anti-microbial properties inhibit up to around 75% of bacteria growth. Chilli peppers are still used up to date to protect us from food poisoning. 

What are the health benefits of chilli pepper? 

There are many health benefits of chilli pepper and most are tied to capsaicin which is the active bioactive that gives chilli pepper its pungency. From protection from certain cancers, aiding digestion, promoting a healthy heart and others in details below. 

  1.  Aids digestion and improves digestive health.

 Chilli pepper, especially in its powdered form, is rich in antioxidants that can soothe digestive complications. They include upsets stomach, gas, diarrhoea, indigestion and constipation as they provide a natural remedy. 

 Chilli pepper can stimulate the production of gastric juices that aid digestion. This is why people who eat spicy foods have fewer digestion issuesAdditionally, eating chilli pepper will help reduce the acidity in the digestive system. 

Although doctors advise people with ulcers to avoid spicy foods, chilli pepper, on the other hand, is beneficial to people with ulcers. According to study by ResearchGateCapsaicin does not stimulate but inhibits acid secretion, stimulates alkali, mucus secretions and particularly gastric mucosal blood flow which help in the prevention and healing of ulcers. 

2. Pain relief 

Capsaicin found in chilli pepper has pain-relieving properties. You will find capsaicin as an ingredient in many pain-relief products such as creams, gel, lotions and others. By consuming chilli pepper you are getting high amounts of capsaicin which can help soothe joint pains, heartburn caused by acid reflux, shingles and other minor pains. 

3. Promotes weight loss. 

Many factors linked to chilli pepper suggest that it can aid weight loss. Capsaicin can reduce appetite making one consume less food thus fewer calories for weight loss. People who consume chilli pepper also have fewer cravings as seen in a studyOpens in a new tab. where capsaicin is said to increase the feeling of fullness for a long time. This helps to decrease the calorie intake increased chances of losing weight. 

Chilli peppers can rev and accelerate metabolism which in turn increases the rate at which you burn fat. An increased metabolic rate increases the speed at which the body converts nutrients into energy instead of being stored as fat. 

On the other hand, the eating chilli pepper makes people drink water during meals which in turn increases the feeling of satisfaction making one eat less food. This helps to reduce calorie intake. Drinking water has many benefits.   

On matters about drinking water for weight loss, citing an article from our sister website Forever super slimOpens in a new tab., The benefits of water for weight loss include; appetite control, increased calories burnt, helps fat burning and is also essential for physical exercise. Read the full article here.Opens in a new tab. 

4. Red pepper may reduce the risks of certain cancers. 

The bioactive compound capsaicin has shown potential in reducing the risk of cancers such as prostate cancer and leukaemia. 

From a studyOpens in a new tab. conducted by Cancer ResearchOpens in a new tab., capsaicin inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. The cancer-fighting abilities are linked to the high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in chilli peppers. 

5. Chilli pepper can improve heart health. 

Consumption of chilli pepper can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Chilli pepper is packed with potassium which is a mineral that can help reduce the risk of heart disease by relaxing blood vessels and improve blood flow. 

Chilli peppers can also prevent fat deposits from building in the blood vessels.   It also promotes a healthy heart by lowering blood serum cholesterol. 

6. Decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

By promoting heart health, preventing obesity with its weight loss properties, chilli pepper can also reduce blood sugar levels. The active compound capsaicin in chilli pepper can regulate blood glucose levels.  

All these benefits make chilli pepper capable of reducing the risks of type 2 diabetes to people who consume it regularly. 

7. Chilli pepper may fight inflammation 

Chilli pepper is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that help to prevent irritations and swelling. Capsaicin from chilli pepper can also relieve pains caused by inflammatory responses such as from Arthritis, sinus, irritations, joint pains and others. 

8. Improve immunity. 

Capsaicin, vitamins, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants in chilli pepper boost the body’s immunity. Regular consumption of chilli pepper makes the body able to fight diseases and conditions such as flu, cough and fungal infections.  

The presence of vitamin C in chilli pepper also contributes to making the body stronger to fight disease-causing pathogens. Additionally, vitamin C helps the body to reduce oxidative stress. 

Ichilli pepper the same as cayenne pepper? 

Do you have questions about cayenne pepper and chilli powder?. Let’s get this straight. Cayenne powder is technically chilli powder as chilli pepper is a general category for these hot spices and of which cayenne is inclusive too. 

However, a spice bottle labelled chilli powder may not necessarily have cayenne in it. Chilli powder may contain many hot spices such as jalapenochilli pepper, cayenne itself and others. 

 It may also contain other spices that don’t fall in the chilli pepper family such as turmeric, cumin, black pepper but these usually are in smaller quantities. This means that the taste of different chilli powders may be different depending on the base ingredients and other spices that are mixed in it. 

Is cayenne pepper powder hotter than chilli powder? 

Cayenne powder can be hotter than chilli powder as it usually is 100% pure without other spices being added into it. Since chilli powder has more than one spice, it usually lessens its heat. 

Other uses of chilli peppers 

  • Chilli pepper has a burning a sensation which makes it a good pesticide. It is used to repel and kill insects yet it’s safe for plants. 
  • Chilli pepper can also help you get rid of small animals such as rats, squirrels, bats and others. Putting it on foods, places they hang out or burning it to bring out a cloud of smoke that will get the animals fleeing as fast as their tiny legs can carry them. 
  • It can be used in making pepper spray. Just in case you have a low budget, mix a thick mixture of chilli pepper to act as a DIY spray. 

Side effects of chilli peppers  

  • Chilli pepper has a hot burning sensation associated with capsaicin. This intense burning can ruin your meal if you put too much chilli pepper you can’t handle in your meals. 
  • It can cause a burning sensation too if it gets to a sensitive part of the body like eyes. If it’s too much in the sensitive part like the eye, chilli pepper can even cause permanent damage. 
  • Some people can experience abdominal pain if they consume chilli pepper. 
  • Chilli pepper can be allergic especially to people that have allergies to bananas, avocado, latex and kiwi. 
  • It can be dangerous to breastfeeding mothers and the baby.  The capsaicin in chilli may pass to the baby through breast milk and affect the baby.
The bottom line. 

The health benefits of chilli pepper are associated with the presence of capsaicin which is the main bioactive compound in chilli pepper. The more the heat from the chilli, the more the capsaicin thus more health benefits.  

It is therefore recommended to take chilli while it’s ripe and red hot as that’s when the capsaicin is at maximum compared to when it is still raw or yellowish. 

However, be careful with the application of chilli as putting too much might ruin your meal. If you are a beginner, start with one chilli pepper and add slowly as you taste your meal. 

Chilli pepper is however not the only hot spice. Read the article about the must-have spices in your kitchen to learn of other amazing hot spices with their benefits.Opens in a new tab. 

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