Do you like a little spice in your life? Do you add jalapeño peppers to your meal? While you might be the master at making stuffed jalapeños with cream cheese and bacon, there’s more to these chilis than meets the taste buds. Not only do they pack a punch of flavor, research also shows that there are many jalapeño health benefits.
For example, studies are being done to see how jalapeño peppers may help with your heart health. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical found in these spicy plants that may reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and platelet aggregation in the blood. Some research suggests that capsaicin also helps to dissolve fibrin in the body, a type of protein that helps blood clots to form. Aside from these studies, evidence from populations who eat jalapeños regularly confirms these results.
Cultures throughout the world that take full advantage of spicy hot peppers in their meals have significantly lower rates of heart attack and stroke than those who don’t. This is likely because jalapeños contain vitamins A and C, both of which help to strengthen blood vessels. These heart-healthy vitamins are accompanied by the jalapeño’s bioflavonoids, beneficial compounds found in plants. These make the blood vessels more elastic and better able to adjust to changes in blood pressure.
To better understand jalapeño health benefits, we’ll dig into more of capsaicin’s roles in the body and how they interact with cells and organs.
The Jalapeño & Capsaicin
The jalapeño pepper and its capsaicin are known as a thermogenic food. Studies have shown that these thermogenic foods may actually burn away calories and fat which will give you a leaner and healthier body. In addition, jalapeños have the ability to stimulate secretions that help clear mucus from the nose which helps to fight nasal congestion. There is research being done about the pepper’s antibacterial properties that fight sinus infections and provide relief from sinus headaches.
Because of the capsaicin found in jalapeños peppers, studies have shown that it may provide relief from the pain of migraine headaches. The pepper and its capsaicin are known to inhibit a key brain pain transmitter which is a neuropeptide called Substance P. This makes capsaicin a very strong anti-inflammatory agent. There is some suggestion that it may be used as a treatment for arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy.
The capsaicin found in jalapeños has been shown to help battle prostate cancer. The vitamins and flavonoids in the peppers are incredible antioxidants that can fight cancer by stopping the cell damage.
Jalapeños contain more than a day’s worth of vitamin C. The pepper contains vitamin K and vitamin A as well. Jalapeños are also a minor source of vitamin E and most of the B complex of vitamins.
The Jalapeño, Capsaicin, And Metabolism
As we know the jalapeño pepper–along with its capsaicin–is a thermogenic food. As a thermogenic food, jalapeños may burn calories and fat–without any exercise. Since obesity is a growing epidemic linked with a variety of health problems, efforts to lose weight are critical for many people’s health. The problem, though, is that the metabolism tends to slow down during weight loss.
The jalapeño may help to combat this problem. One study showed that capsaicin can boost metabolism by 4-5% per day, countering the metabolism slow-down during weight loss. (1) Similar compounds, called capsaicinoids, have also been shown to reduce abdominal fat and appetite.
It’s no wonder, then, that regularly consuming chili peppers is associated with a significantly reduced risk of obesity. This fat-burning action can give you a leaner and healthier body when combined with a nutritious diet and the right amount of exercise.
Jalapeños And Your Nose
Most people that regularly consume jalapeños can attest to their eye and nose-watering effects. Regardless of the jalapeño recipe used, eating enough of these spicy green chilis will soon have you blowing your nose. This, like the pepper’s other qualities, has to do with capsaicin.
The capsaicin in jalapeños can stimulate secretions that help clear mucus from the nose. This cleansing action helps to fight nasal congestion, a normal symptom of the common cold as well as allergy sufferers. One study examined a capsaicin nasal spray on participants who had non-allergic rhinitis, and inflammation of the nasal passages.
Researchers found that the capsaicin nasal spray reduced inflammation versus the placebo spray. It also provided relief from symptoms, including congestion, sinus pressure, sinus pain, and headache. Aside from the fact that the ingredients in the spray were natural and not artificial, there were no negative side effects to any participants. This may also be due to the jalapeño’s antibacterial properties, which may also aid in fighting sinus infections and relieving sinus headaches. (2)
More Jalapeño Health Benefits
Along with benefits to the metabolism and sinuses, the capsaicin in jalapeño might also help the brain. Studies show that this pepper’s compound may provide relief from the pain of migraine headaches by inhibiting a key brain pain transmitter. This neuropeptide is called Substance P. Researchers found that Substance P almost doubled when exposed to capsaicin. (3) This may be a future treatment for migraine headaches.
Because of its capsaicin content, jalapeños are also a very strong anti-inflammatory agent. There is some suggestion that it may be used as a treatment for arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. Additionally, studies show that capsaicin may help fight certain types of cancer. The vitamins and flavonoids in the peppers are incredible antioxidants that can stop cell damage caused by cancer cells.
One study looked at the effects of capsaicin on prostate cancer. Researchers found that capsaicin caused prostate cancer cells to die off at an increased rate. (4) While more studies are needed, these findings are another aspect of jalapeño health benefits.
Finally, jalapeños are very nutritious. They contain more than a day’s worth of vitamin C and are also rich in vitamins K and A. The peppers are also a minor source of vitamin E and most of the B complex of vitamins.
7 Ways Jalapeños Help The Body
- Nutritious – Jalapeños are low in calories but high in minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They’re also a great source of vitamins C, K, A, E, and B’s.
- Lose Weight – Jalapeños might help you lose weight by reducing your appetite, boosting your metabolism, and increasing the amount of fat you burn.
- Fight Cancer – Jalapeños have been shown to help the body battle prostate cancer. For example, lab studies show that capsaicin fights prostate cancer by stopping the growth and division of cells, slowing the formation of new blood vessels around cancer tumors, and preventing cancer from spreading to other areas in the body.
- Relieve Pain – Jalapeños can help with migraine headaches. The capsaicin in jalapeños temporarily blocks pain receptors when it is applied topically. Find a quality capsaicin lotion or patch for localized pain relief (just don’t rub the pepper on your skin!)
- Prevent Stomach Ulcers – Jalapeños could help protect your stomach from developing ulcers because of–you guessed it–capsaicin.
- Fight Infection – Spicy foods, like jalapeños, contain compounds that can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that cause infections.
- Heart Health – Jalapeños may be beneficial for your heart. Capsaicin has been found to have beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood sugars, and blood pressure in animal studies.
Use jalapeños in a recipe today!
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- Bernstein JA;Davis BP;Picard JK;Cooper JP;Zheng S;Levin LS; A randomized, double-blind, parallel trial comparing capsaicin nasal spray with placebo in subjects with a significant component of nonallergic rhinitis. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21802026/. Published August 2011.
- K; PJWMDSF. Capsaicin-stimulated release of substance P from cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons: involvement of two distinct mechanisms. Biochemical pharmacology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10751549/. Published June 2000.
- MS; HRW-P. Thermogenic ingredients and body weight regulation. International journal of obesity (2005). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20142827/. Published April 2010.
- Ramos-Torres Á, Bort A, Morell C, Rodríguez-Henche N, Díaz-Laviada I. The pepper’s natural ingredient capsaicin induces autophagy blockage in prostate cancer cells. Oncotarget. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4811481/. Published January 12, 2016.