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What are the Health Benefits of Peppers?

Hillary Flynn
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Even before Peter Piper picked them, peppers provided a plethora of potential positives. The health benefits of peppers, both hot and sweet, is surprisingly long. They have been linked to metabolism, insulin levels, natural cold remedies, pain control, weight loss, and endorphins. Capsaicin is the active ingredient that gets the most recognition. Though it is only found in hot peppers, the sweet peppers share the other nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

The hot pepper family includes chile, cayenne, and jalapeño. Hot peppers are the way to go when looking for an energy boost. Capsaicin levels in hot peppers are high, and this is the pepper ingredient acknowledged for raising endorphin levels and improving mood. The health benefits of peppers are almost always linked to capsaicin, which is a vasodilator, meaning it causes blood vessels to widen. This enhances circulation and increases body temperature, which then raises metabolism. The effect also reduces body fat accumulation.

The capsaicin in hot peppers reduces pain by depleting substance P, which is a chemical that transmits pain signals to the brain. Because of this, capsaicin can be found in many topical pain relieving creams. Red chiles have the most vitamin A, and all chile peppers provide fiber, potassium, folic acid, and iron. Studies have shown that subjects who ate a hot pepper with a meal had lower insulin levels when the meal was finished. Though the particulars are yet unknown, the effect was most dramatic in subjects with the highest weights, which suggests peppers may have a significant impact on weight loss.

The health benefits of peppers can also be found in sweet varieties. This group includes bell peppers in red, green, orange, and yellow. The sweeter the pepper, the lower the levels of capsaicin. While hot peppers with capsaicin are used in small quantities as spice, sweet peppers are used in larger quantities and served as vegetables. Though lacking in capsaicin, the sweet peppers still offer a big nutritional boost. They're full of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.

The riper the sweet pepper, the sweeter the taste and the more concentrated the nutrients. Red is the ripest, and therefore the sweetest, and green is a bit more bitter and not ripe. Sweet peppers also contain lycopene, which is said to protect against prostate cancer. Red sweet peppers contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a substance being studied to lower the risk of lung cancer. The health benefits of peppers are still being studied, but with all the benefits already uncovered, they're a sure bet for healthy choice.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Hillary Flynn
By Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the WiseGeek team, where she contributes well-researched articles on various topics. In addition to her work with WiseGeek, Hillary manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. With a passion for satirical writing and traveling to historical places, Hillary brings a distinctive voice to her content.
Discussion Comments
By anon167908 — On Apr 14, 2011

The habanero pepper is known to be a cure for cancer. Look it up!

By parmnparsley — On Jan 06, 2011

They are only mild peppers, but Ancho chili peppers are great for making barbecue sauce. I make a basic bourbon barbecue sauce, complete with onions, garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire, brown sugar, and ketchup. Once the barbecue sauce is put together and starts to simmer, I add a few tablespoons of Ancho chili paste. The peppers are sweet, and with the right concentration, mildly spicy. The sauce always comes out delicious, smoky, sweet, and faintly spicy. There is no better sauce for barbecue ribs.

By chicada — On Jan 03, 2011

I love hot peppers, especially the Habanero and Serrano Chili peppers, but I never knew they had that many health benefits. This article does explain a lot about how peppers make me feel though. They are a pick me up, they keep my appetite small, and they make me happy.

I have peepers with most meals, including breakfast. My favorite breakfast is scrambled eggs with sautéed garlic, chopped Serrano peppers and chopped mushrooms. I top my scrambled eggs with vegetarian chili, a little lime juice, and serve with a couple warm corn tortillas.

Now that I know all of the health benefits of hot peppers, I will tell my wife. She will be less likely to complain about the irritation of sautéing hot peppers and hot sauce knowing that it is good for my prostate.

By subway11 — On Aug 10, 2010

There are many health benefits of cayenne pepper. Studies have shown that ingesting cayenne pepper increases the metabolic rate, which raises the rate of which you burn calories.

This is excellent news if you're trying to lose weight. In addition, it also lowers blood pressure and seems to clean out the arteries.

If that was not enough, it is also good for your digestion. It really seems to have significant benefits to those suffering from ulcers.

Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the WiseGeek team, where she contributes well-researched articles...
Learn more
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