I love spicy food. I am particularly fond of Mexican food, and anything and everything with Jalapeno peppers. So, I was very happy to find out that these spicy little gems, also pack a powerful health punch!
So, with all due respect to my wife — move over kale, there’s a new superfood in town and it’s bringing the heat to the diet and nutrition world!
First of all jalapenos are loaded with micro and macronutrients. They have ZERO fat, and yet a decent amount of protein and fiber. As far as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) go, these spicy little peppers are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, and also contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that may help to prevent damage to your cells. They are rich in folate, vitamin K, and B vitamins.
But most of all, like all peppers, jalapenos compound called capsaicin, which is what gives them their spicy kick. Capsaicin has been linked to weight loss. There have also been studies that indicate capsaicin can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because of its fat burning abilities.
If weight management and perhaps staving off heart disease was not enough to convince you to add some spice to your next meal, then consider this — capsaicin has also been shown in lab studies to kill over forty types of cancer cells without harming your healthy cells.
More research needs to be done to understand how to effectively use capsaicin as a therapeutic intervention for cancer, but including more spicy peppers like jalapenos in your regular diet could benefit.
And finally, the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America have been using hot peppers such as jalapenos as a natural pain killer and anti-inflammatory for centuries. When used externally, capsaicin temporarily blocks pain receptors wherever it is applied. Lotions containing capsaicin have been shown to help with shingles, diabetic nerve pain, arthritis, and even migraines when used in the form of a spray, but the science is still out as to whether or not eating jalapenos or applying them directly to the skin has the same effect.
You don’t need to start downing whole, raw jalapenos to get the benefits from capsaicin. Getting some of that super-chemical is as simple as throwing a few slices of jalapenos on top of your next taco, or stirring them into a pot of chili, or spicing up your next omelet.