Did you know the benefits of chili and other spicy species for the body?

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The benefits of chili and other hot spices for the body are amazing. (Getty Creative)

I thought it was a joke or the protagonist of a children’s horror story, but not. The ghost chili exists. Also known as ghost chilli, naga jolokia, bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper, among other names, this is one of the hottest peppers in the worldand it turns out that by inquiring about this vegetable with a curious name, we were able to discover the benefits of hot peppers and other spices for the body.

The ghost pepper is just one of more than 250 varieties of hot peppers in the world, according to the ready of the blog dedicated to the subject, El Holandés Picante. Nothing else in Mexico there is a minimum of 50 different varieties, among which are the jalapeño, the serrano, the chipotle, the tree chili, and the habanero, as you refer the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

There are many myths surrounding the intake of spicy foods and health. Some of these rule that chili and other hot spices cause digestive diseases, which can irritate the stomach and cause hemorrhoids, while others point out that spicy is a powerful ally in weight loss processes, which improves blood circulation. The list is endless, and it is logical because these ingredients have been part of the gastronomy of many countries for thousands of years, according to review on BBC, and with so much history there is always a lot to cut.

Chilean food
Chilean food “Picante Caliente” with onion, tomato, chili and eggs in typical clay pot (Getty Creative)

However, the benefits of chili peppers and hot spices have been studied –such as ginger, which is a known antioxidant; curry, paprika, cayenne pepper, among many others – and the news is encouraging.

To begin with, the nutritionist Laura Romero consulted by Very Interesting says that the ingredient that concentrates the greatest benefits is lto capsaicin, and it is this that precisely gives itching to the flavor of these ingredients and is composed of water, sulfur, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iodine and vitamins such as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, among other substances, but also research have shown that far from damaging it, it protects the stomach.

A published review in Critical Reviews and Food Science and Nutrition says that many studies have concluded that capsaicin “does not stimulate but rather inhibits acid secretion, stimulates alkaline and mucous secretions and, in particular, the blood flow of the gastric mucosa, which helps prevent and heal ulcers. Capsaicin works by stimulating afferent neurons in the stomach and protective signals against agents that cause injury.” When symptoms of digestive problems appear, they are not caused by capsaicin, but were probably already there and the consumption of hot peppers encouraged them.

Spices and herbs on wooden table (Getty Creative)
Spices and herbs on wooden table (Getty Creative)

On the other hand, regular consumption of spicy foods, especially capsaicin, has also been associated with the inhibition of the development of prostate cancer cells. so indicates a study conducted in mice and that is contained in the portal of the American Association for Cancer Research, where it is specified that it also inhibits the development of tumors without causing serious toxicity in animals. “These results suggest that capsaicin may have a role in the treatment of patients with prostate cancer, even in those who are refractory to hormone therapy.”

Also, according to the Mexican Institute of Social Security, the spicy “stimulates the release of endorphins, substances of the brain that produce a sensation of pleasure”but also warns about the disadvantages of consuming it in excess because it could irritate the intestine and other mucous membranes.

Last but not least, studies confirm that spicy food helps us live longer. One published by BMJ Medicine concludes that habitual consumption of spicy foods was inversely associated with total mortality and for certain causes, regardless of other risk factors for death”.

The spicy stimulates the release of endorphins, substances of the brain that produce a sensation of pleasure.  (Getty Creative)
The spicy stimulates the release of endorphins, substances of the brain that produce a sensation of pleasure. (Getty Creative)

This study cites other research that showed that spices and their bioactive components, such as capsaicin, influence a lower incidence of cancer; as well as provide benefits in the treatment of cardiovascular and dermatological conditions, among others.

Red chilies in wooden bowl on dark wooden background (Getty Creative)
Red chilies in wooden bowl on dark wooden background (Getty Creative)

3 tips to enjoy the spicy

After discovering all its virtues, it is logical that we feel like incorporating the spicy flavor into our regular diet, especially if we have not been raised in a culture of high consumption of spicy, but to do so successfully we must take into account some recommendations.

We should eat the spicy accompanied by cookies, bread, potatoes, vegetables.  Cilantro and lemon also offer a refreshing combination that counteracts itching.  (Getty Creative)
We should eat the spicy accompanied by cookies, bread, potatoes, vegetables. Cilantro and lemon also offer a refreshing combination that counteracts itching. (Getty Creative)

1) caution and information

We can start with spices such as curry, ginger or pepper, adding them to our daily recipes with great caution and progressively, for example once a week, we add a touch of spice to our meals. This is how tolerance is built.

2) Attention to intensity

Capsaicin is found in chilies, peppers, paprika, cayenne pepper and is concentrated in the seeds of these foods, so there is variety to incorporate new flavors, but it will be very useful to be aware of the intensity of the itching. For this there is the Scoville scale, which is an ideal guide for those who approach this fascinating world of spicy.

3) Companions

We should not eat the spicy alone, but accompany it with cookies, bread, potatoes, vegetables. Also the cilantro and lemon offer a refreshing combination that counteracts the heat. If we get out of hand, the best liquid to relieve itching is milk. A study of the State University of New Mexico, as well as demonstrates and points out that other dairy products also help, as well as sugar.

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